London: A lawyer appearing for Rupert
Murdoch`s `News International` on Tuesday said the practice of
phone-hacking was "shameful, should never have happened".
Deposing before the Justice Leveson Inquiry, lawyer
Rhodri Davies began by apologising on behalf of the `News
International` to the victims of phone hacking and their
The inquiry, set up earlier this year when the
phone-hacking at `News of the World` blew into a storm for the
British press, politics and the police, is going into the
culture, practice and ethics of the press.
Davies indicated that the illegal practice may have
continued beyond 2007, contrary to early assumptions, and said
"many fine staff" in the company had suffered through no fault
of their own.
He said News International accepted that the practice of
phone hacking went further than just one rogue reporter, that
there was no public interest justification for it and that
there had been no thorough investigation of it until the
police launched `Operation Weeting` earlier this year.
He said the company had taken several steps in response to
evidence of the practice, including closing the News of the
World (NoW) in July 2011, establishing a management and
standards committee with an independent chairman and
appointing a new chief executive
According to Davies, News International had "several
horses in its stable" and not all of its reporters or all of
its papers were involved in the illegal accessing of phones.
He, however, questioned inquiry counsel Robert Jay`s
statement yesterday that as many as 28 News of the World
journalists were linked to phone hacking in notebooks
belonging to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
Also deposing before the committee was Jonathan Caplan,
lawyer representing Associated Newspapers, publishers of the
Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, Evening Standard, London Metro
and Ireland on Sunday.
Caplan denied that phone-hacking took place at the group
and said Britain needed a "strong ethical and viable press
which is equipped for the significant challenge of being both
the eyes and ears of the public and ultimately its voice".
He added: "With news and investigative journalism those
stories are not plucked full-grown from the trees," he said,
adding that resources were needed to investigate stories and
establish truth and accuracy.
Caplan said Associated Newspapers was unaware of any of
its staff using phone hacking as a tool or bribing the police.