Mark Lewis

Mark Lewis, who represents several claimaints in civil cases against News International

The Press Complaints Commission issued a formal apology to lawyer Mark Lewis in the high court today for remarks made by its chairman Baroness Peta Buscombe.

The PCC is also understood to have paid damages to Lewis in order to settle a libel case brought by the lawyer, who has represented a number of claimants in the News of the World phone-hacking case.

Giving evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport committee last year, Lewis said he was told by DS Mark Maberly that 6,000 people may have had their phones hacked by the News of the World.

But Buscombe later said in a speech at the Society of Editors conference that Lewis had misquoted Maberly, and defended evidence given to the select committee by Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner John Yates, claiming "only a handful" of people had been targeted by the tabloid.

Buscombe told the committee: "Any suggestion that a Parliamentary Inquiry has been misled is of course an extremely serious matter."

Speaking at the high court this morning, a solicitor acting on behalf of Buscombe and the PCC was expected to give an apology echoing a statement published earlier this year on the PCC website:

"Baroness Buscombe's speech to the Society of Editors could have been interpreted to mean that she and the PCC had accepted that the Metropolitan Police's statement that the evidence given by Assistant Commissioner Yates was reliable meant that the evidence given to Parliament by the solicitor, Mark Lewis, was unreliable. It was never our intention to create that impression.

"We accept that the evidence given by Mark Lewis was given honestly. It was never supposed to be suggested that Mark Lewis had misled Parliament or that there had been any determination that his evidence was not correct. We apologise to Mark Lewis for any distress that has been caused."

The PCC declined to comment further following this morning's settlement.

Lewis, who is also pursuing a libel action against the Metropolitan Police, told today:

"I am very satisfied that Baroness Buscombe and the PCC have accepted my claim and expressed regret for the consequences of what she said. My case continues against the Metropolitan Police who still defend the claim. Eventually the truth will come out from the Met and I will be fully vindicated."

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