Hacking victims’ lawyer claims press giant tried to destroy him

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News International tried to destroy the life of the lawyer acting for phone-hacking victims, he told the Press standards inquiry yesterday.

Mark Lewis, whose clients include the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, told the Leveson Inquiry that the company commissioned surveillance on him and his family.

The inquiry also heard an internal dossier about him was compiled by News International, which published the now-defunct News of the World.

“News International sought to destroy my life, and very nearly succeeded,” he said.

Mr Lewis said he was shown a video of his ex-wife and teenage daughter that had been seized by detectives in London.

“That was truly horrific, that my daughter was videoed, was followed by a detective with a camera – I mean, just followed. That shouldn’t happen to anybody’s child,” he said.

The inquiry heard a report into his private life was also commissioned by Julian Pike, a partner with law firm Farrer and Co, on the instruction of News International lawyer Tom Crone.

Rhodri Davies QC, counsel for News International, said: “Physical and video surveillance was commissioned by the News of the World and News International apologises to Mr Lewis and his family for that.”

The inquiry also heard the former deputy head of the UK’s data protection authority refused to pursue newspapers over illegal purchase of confidential information because they were “too big”.

Alec Owens, the Information Commissioner’s Office senior investigating officer from 1999 until 2005, said he urged top brass to go after the newspapers.

In evidence, Tony Blair’s former communications director Alastair Campbell said he wrongly accused Cherie Blair’s lifestyle consultant of tipping off newspapers about the movements of the former Prime Minister’s wife. He had apologised to Carole Caplin. Police said her mobile phone was hacked by the News of the World.