Conflicts Questions Raised About Law Firm that Found No Widespread Hacking at Tabloid
Posted Jul 18, 2011 7:47 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Updated: Did the law firm that found no evidence of widespread hacking at the News of the World tabloid have a conflict of interest?
ABC News put the conflicts question to Harbottle & Lewis, which declined an interview with the network.
According to ABC, Harbottle & Lewis represented Prince William and Prince Harry in the royal phone-tapping case that led to the arrest of a reporter for News of the World and a private investigator. The same year, 2007, News of the World hired the law firm to conduct an internal investigation into the extent of the phone hacking.
The newspaper notes a Wall Street Journal interview in which Rupert Murdoch said Harbottle & Lewis made a "major mistake" in underestimating the scope of the hacking.
The law firm issued a statement early Monday in response to the press coverage, Legal Week reports. It reads: "Despite the constraints upon us, we can make it clear that many recent press reports have not accurately described the extent of our retainer from News International in 2007. Unfortunately we are not at present able to correct these errors by explaining what the scope of that retainer was, since that is (or at least may be, depending on technical legal arguments) privileged information.
"All of these issues will no doubt become clearer in due course, especially when all of the relevant parties cooperate fully with the various investigations and inquiries. In the meantime, we will say more as and when it becomes professionally possible to do so."
Daily Mail: "Why did Prince William's lawyers hide hacking evidence? Firm that advises Royals entangled in row over 'cover up' "
Updated at 9:30 a.m. to include Harbottle's statement.