Media & PR

New twist over News of the World phone hacking allegations

In an unusual and dramatic turn in the long-running story of the News of the World (editor at the time, Andy Coulson) and the hacking into the voicemail systems of people in the public eye, a lawyer whose claims were initially dismissed as wrong by the Press Complaints Commission is now suing for libel.

As The Guardian explains:

Peta Buscombe, the baroness who chairs the Press Complaints Commission, has been sued for libel by a solicitor.

Writs have also been issued against the PCC itself and the Metropolitan Police by a London-based solicitor, Mark Lewis.

He is claiming damages for libel, including aggravated damages, plus an injunction to restrain all three parties from publishing the allegations that allegedly accuse him of lying…

[Giving evidence to a Parliamentary committee, Lewis] told of a conversation with a Met police detective sergeant, Mark Maberly, who had said 6,000 people had been “involved” in the NoW’s hacking activities rather than the “handful” originally claimed to have been victims of phone message interceptions.

When the PCC inquired into this statement by Lewis, a Met police lawyer told the then PCC director, Tim Toulmin, that Maberly had been wrongly quoted by Lewis. In other words, it suggested that Lewis had lied.

In November 2009, armed with this Met police response, Buscombe addressed the Society of Editors’ conference about the affair, saying that Maberly had been misquoted. She told a Guardian reporter: “He didn’t say it. He is said to have said it.”

Lewis was outraged by what he regarded as a slur on his reputation…

In April this year, following the publication of the select committee’s report, Buscombe wrote to the committee “to correct the record.” Her correction appears on the PCC website.

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