Brooks 'Discussed Phone Hacking' at Chequers

The Old Bailey have been hearing from Dom Loehnis, a former Telegraph journo turned head-hunter and close old friend of the Prime Minister. Called by the prosecution, Loehnis has told the court that he sat next to Rebekah Brooks at David Cameron’s fortieth Birthday party hosted at the PM’s grace and favour country pad Chequers in 2010. The conversation was rather fruity:

As early as 2010, Brooks did not believe Coulson could survive in N0.10:

Yet he didn’t jump until 2011?

Loehnis came onto the police radar when a latter he wrote to Brooks after she resigned from News International was discovered. Sharp intakes of breath in Downing Street this afternoon….

The Laws an Ass

https://twitter.com/TomHarrisMP/status/402446611244384256

Whatever could he mean. That’s the £40,000 question…

Top Hacking Lawyer Relocating to LA

Mark Lewis, the phone hacking lawyer leading the fight against the Mirror, is off to sunny LA:

Dear All

In perhaps one of the worst kept secrets, I will be leaving the UK on Friday to take up permanent residence in Los Angeles.

I will still be pursuing those cases in the UK and will undoubtedly be back in London on a regular basis re NGN and MGN. I do have cases that will be pursued in the USA.

I will still be available on this email address and my English mobile number. I will forward my US cell phone details next week.

Thank you all for your contacts over the years.

Best regards

Mark Lewis
Partner
Taylor Hampton Solicitors Limited

Can anyone think of any New York/LA based former tabloid editors who might not appreciate the new arrival on their home-ground?

Quote of the Day

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.”

Briscoe and Clifford Plead Not Guilty

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…

Exclusive to All Papers: Murdoch Huhne Affair Conspiracy

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… 

Claire Perry Concedes Guido Didn’t “Sponsor” Hacking

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…

How Rolf’s Lawyers Used Leveson to Prevent Reporting Lawyers Falsely Claimed Guido Scoop Was “Only Conjecture”

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:

harbottle-lewis-guido-mail-threat

Coulson’s Mobile Phone Conversation Intercepted

ac-grays-inn

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 Loses Libel Costs Battle

mitchellsherborneAndrew 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.

If Mitchell does appeal the costs ruling his libel case is suspended until the whole costs issue is resolved. This would probably push back the main Plebgate case to the spring. Meaning it will be too late for him to return to a reshuffled Cabinet and probably too late to be appointed as a European negotiator. Neither will Downing Street be pleased to see a high profile Tory in a “posh versus plebs” public court battle in the run up to the general election…

Mitchell's Half-a-Million Libel Legal Debacle

sherborne

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.

sun-plebgate

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…

Judge: You Elect Politicians For This Crap High Court Rules "Bedroom Tax" is Not a Tax

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”, Lord Justice Laws’ most important paragraph will be used again and again:

“…it is not generally for the courts to resolve the controversies which this insistence involves. That is for elected government. The cause of constitutional rights is not best served by an ambitious expansion of judicial territory, for the courts are not the proper arbiters of political controversy.”

He’s right. The only thing more dangerous than the rabble in SW1 are unelected and unaccountable judges siding with an angry mob. Taxpayers money is wasted on such spurious legal challenges.

Meanwhile, guess which phrase does not appear once in the entire ruling? Nowhere will you find the ridiculous term “Bedroom Tax”. Quite the opposite in fact.

Lord Justice Laws has ruled that these are changes to “a means-tested benefit”.

Amusingly he points out that this “is well known”.

Try telling that to the BBC…

POLL RESULT: 86% of Readers Say Sue Claire Perry Guido Has Instructed Lawyers to Commence Proceedings

The people have spoken. Nearly three thousand of you voted in Guido’s consultation on whether he should sue Claire Perry for defamation after she accused him of “sponsoring” hackers to post porno pictures on her website. 2,404 co-conspirators said Guido should sue Claire Perry…

It is not as if Guido did not politely ask her to withdraw her false accusations:

Reluctantly, Guido has instructed m’learned friends who will be writing to her today…

Should Guido Sue Claire Perry?

Last night after Guido reported the legitimate news that anti-porn campaigner Claire Perry had been targeted by internet hackers who hosted porn on her website, the Tory MP went proper shouty crackers on Twitter.

  • She then bizarrely claimed that Guido had sponsored the hacking of her website.
  • When smears did not work, Perry then tried vague threats about calling the editor of  The Sun, despite the story appearing on the blog, for which the editor of The Sun doesn’t have any responsibility.

You can read her collected tweets here. They are without any foundation, merit or a shred of evidence to back them up. Guido suspects it is based on Perry’s dislike of the blog bringing the pushy MP back down to earth occasionally. Perry does not have a leg to stand on here, so if she does not retract the bonkers allegations, should Guido unleash his lawyers? You won’t like them when they’re angry.

So in the now fashionable manner popularised by the government the blog has decided to put the decision out to consultation to the readers. Poll closes at midday. Vote below…

Labour Plan to Make Benefits a "Human Right" Secret Recording Reveals Plans for Lib-Lab Deal

fabian-wolf-in-sheeps-clothingThis covert recording obtained by Guido – made at the Fabian Society’s recent £100-a-ticket gala – reveals that Labour are planning to enshrine welfare payments as a human right, with plans to extend the Human Rights Act to include ‘economic and social rights’. Essentially enshrining socialism in law. No wonder the symbol of the Fabian Society is a socialist wolf in sheep’s clothing…

The Sun reported the plan which Labour’s Shadow Minister for Scotland, Willie Bain, himself describes as a “scrounger’s charter”. In response Labour put out a statement claiming “The discussion at a Fabian Society event was about methods used abroad, not something the Labour Party is considering as a policy.”  If you listen to the actual recording you will realise that is complete spin:

After admitting it will be a lot easier for Labour to do a deal with Vince Cable he says a Lib-Lab coalition would make welfare benefits a “human right”:

willie-bain“Sadiq asked me to do this and Jon Cruddas is keen on this as well is to look at whether economic and social rights can be put into law. At the moment the human rights act just deals with civil political rights. It needs really careful handling because I think the politics of this would be the Tories would say it’s a scroungers charter, helping skivers….we might just talk about having a commission on it. It might need a commission after the election…that’s something again where there’d be a communality with the Libs.”

Lawyers will love this, welfare reform would be impossible because it would be a “human right”…

Tory Wars: Bow Group V Iain Dale

A classic ding-dong between Iain Dale and the Bow Group’s pompous chairman Ben Harris-Quinney. It all kicked off when legal letter-loving Harris-Quinney took exception a mildly bitchy ConservativeHome diary piece, in which Dale, not unfairly, said the Bow Group had “disappeared up its own backside… under the control of a self-publicist who goes by the name of Ben Harris-Quinney”. Cue an utterly cringeworthy letter from lawyers Speechly Bircham, who asked for a retraction on the grounds that the Bow Group is actually doing jolly well as it has “greatly expanded its followers on Facebook and Twitter”. Guido offered Iain some friendly advice:

Which he took:

“Yes, to say that the Bow Group is “disappearing up its own backside” is indeed offensive. It was meant to be. Furthermore, it is true, as evidenced by your clients hiring you to send me your ridiculous and totally unnecessary letter. What further evidence do I need to supply to back up this assertion? Any normal person or responsible organisation would have contacted me directly or picked up the phone. Instead your clients resorted to cowardice.”

It is worth reading the exchange in full here. This is not the first time that Harris-Quinney has been spanked after hollow legal threats…

Labour Council’s Stafford Hospital Campaign Legal Threats

When it comes to Stafford Hospital, you would have thought that Labour would tread very, very carefully. Campaigners have been tying blue ribbons around trees in the area to show their support, despite recent events, for keeping the hospital open. More militant protesters from the Support Stafford Hospital campaign even advertised a candlelit vigil. How did Cannock Chase District Council respond? Not by joining the peaceful protest, but instead threatening to prosecute the campaigners. Emails leaked to Guido show the local Labour-run council coming down like a ton of bricks on these radical, subversive candle wavers:

The local Labour candidate Janos Toth was happy to pose with the same campaigners for his leaflets, yet until the end of last month he was the deputy leader of the council putting on the legal heavies.

Maybe he could personally serve a letter before action or the writ?

Clegg Could Be Called to Give Evidence in Handycock Case

As Sky News’ Amber Elliott points out, the LibDems’ own rules say that “during the course of the Disciplinary Procedure, the person being complained against may be suspended from membership of the Party”. This is expected to happen later today. Fresh from the Rennard scandal, Clegg cannot be seen to dither on this one, though it’s too late for that. These allegations have been circulating for years and Clegg’s office were notified about them directly, as Guido revealed in February.

So why so keen to act all of a sudden?

Well a source familiar with the High Court action against the MP suggests that “LibDem leaders, past and present, could well be called to give evidence” in the upcoming civil case. Why Clegg ignored this dossier, and why the Leader of Portsmouth Council dismissed the allegations as “political” might well be of interest to the judge. Would give a new meaning to Call Clegg…

Hacked Off’s Sherborne Takes on the Plebs

sherborneDavid Sherborne has a new client. The Hacked Off ladies man specialises in representing the poor and downtrodden such as; Diana, the late Princess of Wales; Benazhir Bhutto; Cherie and Tony Blair; Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones; Ewan McGregor; Sienna Miller; Nicole Kidman; Jennifer Aniston; Mick Jagger; Liam and Noel Gallagher; the Spice Girls; Claudia Schiffer; Kate Moss; Mike Tyson; Ricky Hatton; Don King; Lewis Hamilton; Rio Ferdinand; Kieron Dyer; David Beckham; Ashley Cole; Craig Bellamy; Ledley King and Sven Goren Eriksson.

He has a new celebrity client, Andrew Mitchell, who has retained him in his fight against The Sun over plebgate…

Judgement Day for Sally Bercow

COURT 14

Before MR JUSTICE TUGENDHAT

Friday, 24th May 2013

At half past 10

Jury List

ROBED
FOR JUDGMENT

TLJ/13/0509 The Lord McAlpine of West Green v Bercow

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“It’s clear you alluded to students refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign.”

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