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News International lawyer says hacking 'more widespread'

By Hamish Mackay

October 20, 2011 | 3 min read

A lawyer who advised News International has said the company was told in 2008 there were three journalists other than Clive Goodman involved in phone hacking.

According to BBC TV News, Julian Pike told the Commons culture committee he had "not done very much" to dispute the firm's claims that only "one rogue reporter" was involved.

But he insisted he was "not party to any cover-up".

Goodman was jailed in 2007 for hacking phones belonging to royal aides.

Pike, who works for solicitors Farrer and Co, advised News International in its phone-hacking case with the Football Association's Gordon Taylor.

BBC News says his case is seen as key to the dispute over how widespread hacking was, with Taylor eventually settling out-of-court with the News of the World for a reported £425,000.

But, reports the BBC, an email handed to his lawyers by the police - known as the "For Neville" email - has been at the centre of a disagreement during previous committee hearings.

Pike, reports the BBC, told the committee the email was a "critical piece of evidence" relating to phone hacking.

"It was quite clear having seen the For Neville email... that there was involvement of News of the World journalists other than Goodman,"

he said.

The lawyer also said that in 2008, at the time of the Taylor case, the advice given to News International was that there were "three journalists other than Goodman involved in phone hacking".

"They were also advised by counsel and ourselves that there was a powerful case to support [the existence of] a culture of illegal accessing of information to get stories," he added.

Pike said there was no obligation for him to report to the police that he knew phone hacking was more widespread at the News of the World than the company was claiming.

Asked what he had done to correct those claims, he said, "I'll be honest, I haven't done very much," but added that this did not cause him "any professional embarrassment".

The committee also heard from Mark Lewis, the solicitor who represents many of the alleged victims of phone hacking - including the family of Milly Dowler - and who represented Mr Taylor.

Lewis said the settlement for Mr Taylor was much higher than would have been expected in a privacy case in which no story was actually published.

He told MPs he believed that was to "hush up" the matter and encourage him not to bring any further claims or make public any further allegations.

"It was only the Milly Dowler case that exposed everything. The lie that was being told by News of the World, but also all the other newspapers. That was really the scandal. It was a cover up by all the newspapers," he claimed.

Les Hinton, former executive chairman for News International will give evidence to MPs next week.

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