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Archive for July 7th, 2011

Andy Coulson to be arrested over phone hacking tomorrow

The Guardian: Second former senior News of the World journalist to also be arrested after leaks from NI force police to speed up plans

I am assuming that the Police did not leak the news of the planned arrest?  If so.. was it pro bono?   [I am aware that Coulson co-operated… irony died a long time ago]

And in the continuing saga…. Mark Stephens has something very interesting to say according to…Reuters

Is Murdoch free to destroy tabloid’s records?

I quote in full from the Reuters stream…. for accuracy….

By Alison Frankel
The views expressed are her own.

Here’s some News of the World news to spin the heads of American lawyers. According to British media law star Mark Stephens of Finers Stephens Innocent (whom The Times of London has dubbed “Mr Media”), Rupert Murdoch’s soon-to-be shuttered tabloid may not be obliged to retain documents that could be relevant to civil and criminal claims against the newspaper—even in cases that are already underway. That could mean that dozens of sports, media, and political celebrities who claim News of the World hacked into their telephone accounts won’t be able to find out exactly what the tabloid knew and how it got the information.

If News of the World is to be liquidated, Stephens told Reuters, it “is a stroke of genius—perhaps evil genius.”

Under British law, Stephens explained, all of the assets of the shuttered newspaper, including its records, will be transferred to a professional liquidator (such as a global accounting firm). The liquidator’s obligation is to maximize the estate’s assets and minimize its liabilities. So the liquidator could be well within its discretion to decide News of the World would be best served by defaulting on pending claims rather than defending them. That way, the paper could simply destroy its documents to avoid the cost of warehousing them—and to preclude any other time bombs contained in News of the World’s records from exploding.

“Why would the liquidator want to keep [the records]?” Stephens said. “Minimizing liability is the liquidator’s job.”

That’s a very different scenario, Stephens said, from what would happen if a newspaper in the U.S. went into bankruptcy. In the U.S., a plaintiff (or, for that matter, a criminal investigator) could obtain a court order barring that kind of document destruction. In the U.K., there’s no requirement that the estate retain its records, nor any law granting plaintiffs a right to stop the liquidator from getting rid of them.

Interesting?  Ongoing police investigation ?  Public inquiry?  Evidence?  Any thoughts on this from those on the front line?

David Allen Green, writing in The New Stateman,  takes a different line…

Closing the News of the World makes no legal difference

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Well well well… The Screws is dead….. Long live THE SUN ON SUNDAY…and SKYBSB….et al…..

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An interesting article in the Indies ‘i’ paper this morning  drew attention to s. 79 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

See: article by Andreas Whittham-Smith

79 Criminal liability of directors etc.

(1) Where an offence under any provision of this Act other than a provision of Part III is committed by a body corporate and is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of—

(a) a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or
(b) any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity,

he (as well as the body corporate) shall be guilty of that offence and liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

(2) Where an offence under any provision of this Act other than a provision of Part III—

(a) is committed by a Scottish firm, and
(b) is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of, a partner of the firm,he (as well as the firm) shall be guilty of that offence and liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

(3) In this section “director”, in relation to a body corporate whose affairs are managed by its members, means a member of the body corporate.

I wonder who, if any, of the directors of News International could be caught by s.79(1) – Consent may be elusive to found prosecution,  connivance may be difficult – what what about ‘neglect’ …  as the Indie ‘i’ article suggested?  At first blush – it would seem to sufficient of a catch all to found a successful prosecution?

Is it applicable in the NOTW scandal et al… ?

Criminal lawyers / white collar fraud specialists …what is your view?

 

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A tweet from Carl Gardner makes an important point…

@Charonqc Complex I think. You’d first need to prove a company was guilty under (say) s1(1) http://bit.ly/r740co which mightn’t be easy.

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