Phone Hacking Lawyer Gets Libel Settlement from UK Police

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Metropolitan Police Service (Credit: MPS, screenshot)

The UK police are paying lawyer Mark Lewis a £230,000 libel settlement after the police “implied he lied to” a 2009 Parliament, the BBC reported.   Lewis has defended many high profile victims of News International hacking, including the family of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, whose phone was hacked by News of the World, and police blogger Richard Horton, whose e-mail was hacked by the Times of London.  The BBC explained:

“He told MPs on the committee that he had been told by Det Insp Maberly that about 6,000 people had either had their phones hacked, or had left messages that were intercepted on phones that had been hacked.”

But, when the UK Press Complaints Commission asked the police about that, the police said Maberly was “wrongly quoted,” and Lewis sued.  (At the same time, Lewis also successfully sued the PCC and its chairman Baroness Peta Buscombe for libel, as we wrote last year when Buscombe resigned.)

The police now say that the “wrongly quoted” comment “may have been misinterpreted in some quarters,” the BBC reported.  We wrote to the police asking how the statement could have been “misinterpreted.”  The Metropolitan Police Service provided iMediaEthics with this statement to be attributed to a Metropolitan Police spokesperson:

“In light of media coverage about the settlement reached between the MPS and Mark Lewis, we can confirm that Mr Lewis has agreed to accept £30,000 in settlement.

“The MPS has agreed to contribute £176,153.60 towards the claimant’s costs.

“The MPS has not admitted liability in this matter but is rightly mindful of the cost of legal proceedings to the public purse, so we are pleased that a potentially expensive libel trial has been avoided.”

In related phone hacking scandal news, the Guardian reported that UK prosecutors didn’t recommend trying to prosecute the Guardian‘s reporter David Leigh for phone hacking in 2006.  As we wrote, last year a 2006 article by Leigh, who has broken many stories about the phone hacking scandal, re-circulated, revealing he had “used some of those questionable methods” in reporting.  Leigh had listened to voicemails for a story on “bribery and corruption” and disclosed this in that 2006 story.  

According to a June 14 Guardian report, the police “asked for advice” from the Crown Prosecution Service about any potential prosecution but was “advised…it is not in the public interest.”  Leigh is quoted as defending his use of actions and noting that he “deliberately publicised..the incident involving me.”  Leigh also indicated News International “laid a complaint” about the incident, but the Guardian wrote that News International didn’t comment about that.

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Phone Hacking Lawyer Gets Libel Settlement from UK Police

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