find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Legal Inhouse / Lawyer / Company Secretary
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Fantastic Company · Potential to be Part Time / Flexible Work Pattern
View details
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Firm denied chance to defend itself in hacking case

Firm denied chance to defend itself in hacking case

Harbottle & Lewis, the London law firm engaged by News International during the phone hacking scandal of 2007, has asked - and been refused - permission by its former clients to waive client confidentiality on its role in the saga.

Harbottle & Lewis, the London law firm engaged by News International during the phone hacking scandal of 2007, has asked - and been refused - permission by its former clients to waive client confidentiality on its role in the saga. 


The firm issued a statement following evidence presented to a Parliamentary committee by News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch regarding alleged phone-hacking at the now-defunct tabloid News of the World. 


Harbottle & Lewis was working for the news organisation in 2007 during the internal investigation at News International into whether phone-hacking spread further than royal editor at the time, Clive Goodman. The firm advised that a cache of emails it reviewed did not show reasonable grounds for believing hacking went further than Goodman. 


Harbottle said in a statement that News International representatives referred to the advice in their statements on 19 July, before the Parliamentary select committee, both as a result of questioning and on their own account. 


"We asked News International to release us from our professional duties of confidentiality in order that we could respond to any inaccurate statements or contentions and to explain events in 2007. News International declined that request, and so we are still unable to respond in any detail as to our advice or the scope of our instructions in 2007, which is a matter of great regret."


Rupert Murdoch alleged In July this year that one of his group's lawyers made a "major mistake" in its role in the newspaper business' internal investigation into phone hacking. 


Murdoch made the comments in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. He cited a "major mistake" on Harbottle & Lewis' part in an investigation carried out four years ago into the scale of phone hacking at Murdoch's UK newspaper arm. 


Murdoch said the law firm had underestimated the scope of the phone hacking problem. 


Harbottle & Lewis's managing partner, Glen Atchinson, was unwilling to comment, and said "it is not our usual practice to comment on our clients' affairs or advice which we may or may not have provided". 


In a key exchange during the Parliamentary hearings, an MP asked Rupert Murdoch what mistake he was referring to in his comments. 


Murdoch replied: "I think maybe that's a question for James, but there was certainly - well, we examined it, re-examined that. We found things that we immediately went to counsel with to get advice on how to present it to the police."


James Murdoch referred to the advice received from the law firm in his Parliamentary testimony: "I am glad you have asked about it, actually, because it is a key bit of outside legal advice from senior counsel that was provided to the company, and the company rested on it. I think it goes some distance in explaining why it has taken a long time for new information to come out. It was one of the pillars of the environment around the place that led the company to believe that all of these things were a matter of the past and that new allegations could be denied."


There have been calls in the wake of the Parliamentary hearings for the law firm to be called to give evidence before a select committee. 

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017


Firm denied chance to defend itself in hacking case
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Nov 23 2017
Education a passion for YL president
Promoted by University of Melbourne. Melbourne Law Masters student Phoebe Blank is successfully j...
Crowd
Nov 23 2017
Anti-radicalisation programs playing ‘second fiddle’ to terrorism laws
Several academics have questioned the balance between Australia’s counterterrorism legislation and...
 William Ah Ket
Nov 23 2017
‘Bamboo ceiling’ thought piece wins inaugural law prize
A paper that explores the idea of affirmative action to achieve greater diversity among members of A...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...