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News International Placed Hacking Lawyers Under Surveillance [07.11.2011]

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Uploaded on Nov 7, 2011

The News of the World (NoW) hired an ex-police officer early last year to carry out surveillance on two prominent lawyers representing victims of phone hacking, the BBC has learned.

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Derek Webb, who ran a private investigations firm called Silent Shadow, covertly followed lawyers Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris.

Mr Webb also filmed members of Mr Lewis's family on a shopping trip.

A spokeswoman for NoW publisher News Group Newspapers declined to comment.

The surveillance was part of an attempt by the now-closed tabloid newspaper, which was owned by News International, to demonstrate that Mr Lewis was having a relationship with Ms Harris and was sharing confidential information with her.

Speaking exclusively to Newsnight's Richard Watson, Mr Webb said he had been commissioned by the NoW to carry out surveillance on Mr Lewis and his former assistant Ms Harris in early 2010.

He was paid to go to Manchester, where the two solicitors were based.

On one occasion during the surveillance, Mr Webb followed Mr Lewis's former wife and his daughter, filming them as they visited shops and a garden centre before trailing them in a car as they returned home.

At the time Mr Lewis was proving a serious threat to the NoW by taking civil proceedings on behalf of phone hacking victims.

He had successfully won a payout of more than £500,000 for one of his clients, the chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association Gordon Taylor.

Other sources have told the BBC that advisers to the NoW were interested in the information as part of an attempt to discredit Mr Lewis and stop him from taking on other phone hacking cases.

Investigator Derek Webb told Newsnight the NoW owed him compensation for his loyalty to the tabloid following eight years of service, but that he had not received any.

Mr Webb's background was in police surveillance and he was trained by the police and once attended an MI5 training course.

The paper folded in July after a string of hacking allegations emerged, including the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Thanks to the BBC

Wednesday 7th November 2011

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