Glenn Mulcaire

Glenn Mulcaire took action against the company after it decided to stop paying his legal fees

Credit: Steve Parsons/PA
Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire has won his legal fees case against News Group Newspapers, after a high court judge ruled that there was a "valid contract of indemnity" between the two parties.

Mulcaire filed a lawsuit against the company in August after the company confirmed it would stop paying his legal fees in ongoing litigation.

The decision came after Rupert Murdoch, the boss of parent company News Corporation, was questioned by the culture select committee in July, after evidence stated that Mulcaire had already been paid £246,000 in legal fees at the time.

In a judgment handed down today the chancellor of the high court Sir Andrew Morritt ruled on seven issues relating to the case and an "indemnity letter".

According to the judgment NGN had contended that a request by Webb, made to NGN's former legal manager Tom Crone, for "further compensation" of £750,000 "constituted a counter-offer and therefore a rejection of the offer contained in the indemnity letter".

But Morritt concluded that "the discussions between Ms Webb and Mr Crone were collateral to the discussions between Ms Webb and Mr Pike" and "did not constitute a counter-offer to Mr Pike’s offer contained in the indemnity letter nor a rejection of it".

Morritt also said that "Mulcaire, through [his lawyer] Ms [Sarah] Webb accepted the offer therein contained and performed his obligations thereunder" and that "by the same token, NGN clearly recognised their contractual liability under the indemnity letter on a number of occasions".

"NGN performed its obligation by payment of no less than 72 invoices rendered to them by Ms Webb including a number submitted on 28 and 29 July 2011."

In his overall conclusions Morritt found therefore that the "contract by which NGN agreed to indemnify Mr Mulcaire from the costs and damages arising from voicemail litigation to which they were joint defendants on the terms contained in the indemnity letter was validly concluded" and remains in force.

He added that the contract "was not determinable by NGN at will whether or not on notice" and that "no conflict of interest has arisen within paragraph 4 of the indemnity letter". He also found that the contract was not void on grounds of public policy "or otherwise".

"For these reasons I will make declarations in terms to be agreed between counsel to the effect that (1) a valid contract of indemnity was concluded between NGN and Mr Mulcaire on the terms of the indemnity letter; (2) such contract has not been determined and is still subsisting."

"Counsel for NGN told me that if that was my conclusion then NGN would give effect to it without the need for any further coercive orders. In those circumstances, but subject to any further submissions of counsel for Mr Mulcaire, I will not now make an order for specific performance or an enquiry as to damages; but I give leave to Mr Mulcaire to apply for those orders should it prove necessary in future."

News International declined to comment.

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