Remember Piers Morgan once lied…
“I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone.”
A busy morning in court today for defendants that regular Guido readers will be familiar with. The barrister and part-time judge Constance Briscoe has pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice over the Huhne case and Max Clifford has denied 11 sex related charges dating from 1965-85. Denis MacShame will have to plead next month too…
Huhne is trying to paint himself as the victim of the Murdoch press because he called for a hacking inquiry from the frontbench, blaming everyone but himself for his own misdemeanours once again this morning. Huhne has used his time inside to work out who caused the end of the marriage (Rupert Murdoch) and who led to him being sent down (Rupert Murdoch):
“The News of the World sparked the end of my marriage, but another Murdoch title, the Sunday Times, then groomed my ex-wife until she told them about the speeding points. The political editor bought dinners, sent flowers, offered breaks at smart hotels, and reassured her that she would not face any unpleasant consequences (such as prison).
Four successive weeks as the splash in the Sunday Times ensured our joint prosecution. The Crown Prosecution Service loves a celebrity trial. It was the end of my political career, and it locked up my ex-wife too. She was just another “burned contact” for the Murdoch press.”
Bear in mind that the original Carina-affair story had a public interest angle because he put pictures of his family on his election leaflets (above). Murdoch cunningly got the affair story and the picture into the News of the World’s bitter rival the Sunday People, then got the Sunday Times’ rival Mail on Sunday to first make the running on the speeding points story after forcing Huhne to pervert the course of justice. He is delusional if he thinks this was a Murdoch-press conspiracy. The Sunday Times’ editor John Witherow really was not convinced the story would lead anywhere, the political editor Isabel Oakeshott had a hard time convincing Witherow the story had legs, most journalists believed that there would never be enough evidence to get Huhne charged. Only when the police raided the family home and got the evidence of the text messages did many in Fleet Street finally believe there was a chance he could be convicted. The CPS were very wary of charging a cabinet minister, they asked the police to get more evidence when they first came back with a dossier saying they had a case. Huhne’s enemies in the media – like this blog – detested him for personal and ideological reasons…
Guido can now happily report that Tory MP Claire Perry has backed down after her bizarre claim that Guido ‘sponsored’ hacking pranksters who uploaded hardcore images onto the anti-porn campaigner’s website. Perry has conceded:
“For the purpose of clarity, I have never stated or indeed believe that you organised the hacking and am quite happy to make that view public.”
The government internet adviser’s offending tweets claiming that Guido sponsored the hacking have now been deleted after Guido’s lawyers demanded that she remove them and withdraw the crazy and technologically illiterate claims which she had made.
Guido would once again like to thank the team at Griffin Law for their work…
This is how Rolf’s lawyers Harbottle & Lewis tried to use the chilling effect of Leveson to prevent reporting of Rolf’s arrest (reference to Guido breaking the story in yellow). Lawyers disingenuously claimed news of arrest was conjecture:
A co-conspirator emailed on Friday:
Yesterday, I found myself walking up the Gray’s Inn Road alongside Andy Coulson. He was talking on his mobile phone to someone about the fact that his trial date had been moved. It was raining and he was mumbling a lot. But I did catch this brilliant quote:
“Whatever you do, don’t share that with anyone. Be very careful.”
I couldn’t resist papping him as he ambled along the road.
A funny thing to hear from the man who stands accused of conspiracy to intercept mobile phone voicemails, among other things. Be more careful Andy…
Andrew Mitchell’s solicitors and his celebrity barrister David Sherborne have had a bad start to their case. Due to a cock-up Mitchell’s solicitors failed to file for their costs and Master McCloud has ruled against Mitchell again today – so he and his lawyers will have to pay all their own estimated £500,000 of costs even if he wins the libel case (in which damages are capped at £150,000). Ironically Mitchell is facing a five-figure cost bill for the argument over costs itself. He can however appeal the ruling to a higher level.
Tomorrow we will get the judgement in a bizarre legal mess up between Andrew Mitchell’s solicitors and his celebrity barrister David Sherborne. Due to a cock-up Mitchell’s solicitors failed to file their costs and so under the tightened rules will be punished. In front of Master McCloud there was a lot of legal buck passing last Thursday. As a result even if he wins the Plebgate libel case it is likely Mitchell will not be able to claim for his costs which are running at some £500,000.
Damages in his Plebgate libel case are capped at £150,000, so if Mitchell loses his case he could have to pay The Sun’s costs of some £600,000 and his costs of £500,000 – a whopping total of £1.1 million will be divided between him and his solicitors who were acting under a Conditional Fee Arrangement (CFA). Ouch!
M’learned friends speculate that Mitchell and his solicitors could end up falling out and suing each other. If the judgement tomorrow goes against Mitchell, his solicitors are likely to appeal meaning the underlying case will be delayed for months.
With the delay Mitchell’s hopes of returning to government in the next reshuffle will come to naught while the case is ongoing…
UPDATE: Mitchell’s lawyers Atkins Thomson, who screwed up the costs claim, have got in touch to say they and Sherborne share the risk of their own costs if Mitchell’s case fails. They also point out the obvious fact that The Sun’s costs are only payable if they lose and they are insured – though m’learned friends tell me the insurance probably won’t cover the whole amount. They also say they won’t fall out with their client…
The High Court judgment on housing benefit is pretty sound stuff. Leaving aside that the bit where the judge claims the case “looks very like a list objections to the policy under the guise of a litany of matters”, […]