Comment

Bureau recommends: NoW hired ex-officer to spy on lawyers

newsoftheworld

An ex-policeman was hired by News of the World to carry out surveillance on two lawyers who were representing phone hacking victims, a BBC Newsnight investigation has learned.

Early last year, Derek Webb secretly followed and filmed lawyers Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris, who were both involved in cases against NoW owner News International.

The surveillance operation was an attempt to prove Mr Lewis was wrongfully sharing confidential information with Ms Harris – a complaint could then have been made to the Solicitors regulation Authority.

The BBC said: ‘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.’

Mr Webb said he had been commissioned by the NoW to carry out the surveillance in early 2010.

‘Deeply inappropriate’
According to Newsnight, the Metropolitan Police gave Mr Lewis documents which indicate the idea of surveillance was raised by a partner at News Group’s lawyers, Farrer.

But there is no evidence the firm commissioned the surveillance and the firm told Newsnight it could not comment without permission from its employers, which it did not have.

News International, owners of the NoW, said it was ‘deeply inappropriate’.

The surveillance of Mr Lewis included filming his teenage daughter on a shopping trip.

Mr Lewis told Newsnight: ‘To follow my teenage daughter, my youngest daughter and video her is nothing short of sick.’

Slavery
However, while the phone hacking scandal rumbles on in Britain, an investigation by Al Jazeera has revealed the continued practice of slavery in Brazil.

The report, which is also worthy of recommendation, shows the role of slavery in the charcoal burning industry. The industry is relied on by many international companies as one of the early stages in the manufacturing of pig iron.

Men from the poverty-stricken north of Brazil are lured with false promises to remote camps.

They are forced into working and living in appalling conditions, and often tricked into amassing massive debts that are impossible to meet in order to pay for their accommodation and even work equipment.