Legal Business Blogs

Phone hacking fallout continues as Farrers reputation head faces prosecution by SRA

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is set to prosecute Farrer & Co‘s head of reputation management, Julian Pike, over allegations of advising News International that it should spy on lawyers who were acting for victims of phone hacking.

Pike is accused of advising News International, the publisher of the now-defunct News of the World, that it should spy on solicitor Mark Lewis and barrister Charlotte Harris – both high-profile representatives for victims of phone hacking who worked at Taylor Hampton and Mishcon de Reya respectively at the time.

The allegations are now subject to a hearing before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and ‘are as yet unproven’, a statement said on the SRA website.

It certified that ‘there is a case to answer’ in respect of the allegations, which stipulate that in late March Pike gave advice to the effect that his client should undertake or commission surveillance of a solicitor and employed barrister acting for the claimants to civil proceedings brought or anticipated against his client without proper justification.

Then in early May it was alleged that Pike commissioned a private investigator to undertake investigations lawyers acting for claimants on civil proceedings brought or anticipated against his client without proper justification.

The case is set to be heard by the SDT in the coming weeks.

A report released by BBC’s Newsnight further alleged Pike requested that Harris and Lewis be put under surveillance. Pike appeared before the Leveson Inquiry in 2011 and gave evidence that he knew the paper’s defence of rogue reporters did not stand up to scrutiny.

Recently it was revealed that Clifford Chance won the high-profile instruction from Linklaters to defend Rupert Murdoch’s News International in its hacking litigation, constituting the fourth time the media giant has switched its lawyers for this case.

Read more in the feature: ‘Shock and Flaw – is Leveson workable?’