Mark Lewis arriving at Leveson

Lawyer Mark Lewis made his second appearance at the Leveson inquiry today to give additional evidence about surveillance by private investigators

Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA
News International has apologised in court for video surveillance carried out on the family of a lawyer representing phone hacking victims.

Speaking at the Leveson inquiry today, Mark Lewis described being shown a video by police earlier this month of his ex-wife and daughter leaving their home, shopping, and visiting a nearby garden centre.

"That was horrific," Lewis told the court. "That was truly horrific, that my daughter was videoed, was followed, by a detective with a camera.

"That shouldn't happen to anybody's child … It was horrific. They had no right to do that."

He said that News International, which submitted the video to the police, "ought to be ashamed of themselves".

According to Lewis' evidence, he was told by the police that the footage was filmed by private investigator Derek Webb, who has admitted carrying out surveillance for News International.

The police also informed Lewis of a second report into his private life, this one commissioned by Julian Pike of News International's law firm Farrer & Co using the company Tectrix.

News International lawyer Rhodri Davies admitted at the inquiry today that the News of the World was responsible for the surveillance, for which he said News International "apologised to Mark Lewis and his family".

But Davies added that News Group Newspapers (NGN) had no evidence to suggest that Lewis' phone had been hacked, which the lawyer had suggested during his testimony.

Lewis, making a second appearance at the inquiry following his initial testimony last Monday, described News International's attempts to gather information on him and prevent him from acting in civil phone hacking cases.

"News International sought to destroy my life," the lawyer said, "and very nearly succeeded".

Emails between Julian Pike and News International legal manager Tom Crone shown to the court revealed that they suspected Lewis of being the source of information leaked to the Guardian about an earlier out-of-court settlement between News International subsidiary NGN and former Professional Footballer's Association (PFA) chief Gordon Taylor.

Lewis emphatically denied that he had leaked any information covered by the non-disclosure agreement in the Taylor case.

"I never gave any information out. It was just the complete arrogance and idiocy of Julian Pike and Tom Crone, who were so busy navel-gazing that they hadn't realised that there were many possible sources for that story.

"The court file was open for anyone to see before it was closed, but they were so arrogant and stupid that they didn't bother to look at that, they just set out trying to ruin my life."

Lewis rounded on Farrer & Co. in his written statement and testimony, saying that their behaviour had been "diabolical".

"It is perhaps not particularly surprising that the News of the World should carry out sinister and intrusive surveillance on those they are targeting, but I was astounded to find out that Farrer & Co. and the barrister Tom Crone should have joined in such disgraceful misconduct.

"I think that the level they stooped to is something that brings great shame on the legal profession."

Other documents shown to the inquiry revealed that Pike had suggested to NGN that it encouraged Gordon Taylor to sue Lewis, even suggesting the publisher help pay Taylor's legal costs if he decided to do so.

"News Group Newspapers wanted to persuade one of my clients, someone I had acted for, someone I had got a lot of money for, to sue me, even though he had not threatened to sue me, had no wish to sue me as far as I knew, and did not sue me."

Taylor never pursued any kind of legal action against Lewis.

Farrer & Co. had claimed that Lewis' career had profited from his representation of alleged phone-hacking victims, at that stage Taylor and PR consultant Nicola Phillips.

But Lewis said that after he was dismissed from his Manchester law firm Stripes for pursuing hacking claims his income "fell to less than 3 per cent of what it was before".

The inquiry also heard from former Downing Street communications director Alastair Campbell, who said he had been briefed that his former employer the Daily Mirror had paid a private detective to investigate him, a member of his family, and Labour colleague Peter Mandelson.

After both witnesses scheduled to appear tomorrow were cancelled, the inquiry will not sit again until next Monday.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).