The Leveson Inquiry…Witnesses Week 4 (Wednesday)

Tom Crone is former News International Legal Manager. The evidence was long without actually producing much. Crone seemed to stonewall a lot, based on privileged advice he had given. He never himself believed the “rogue reporter” line and felt that the company was anxious to draw a line and move on. The inference was that as long as litigants could be dealt with and that the Police did not re-open the investigations, things might work out.

Crone’s evidence concerns the Gordon Taylor case. He admits that the case would be lost but denies that the newspaper would have settled at any price. Crone’s evidence is slow. He is frustrating Inquiry Counsel not just with the slowness of his responses but the qualifications in just about every answer. “I think so”, “I don’t recall”, “as I recall”, “I can’t say for certain”.

He had confronted four journalists about phone hacking and was seemingly unimpressed with their replies. Unusually perhaps he claims that the newspaper was ethical but does not know who was the guardian of such ethics. It wasn’t him. There was no culture of cover up, merely a recognition of the damage to reputation which led to the costly settlement to Gordon Taylor. He reveals that he DID show the front page of the notorious “For Neville” email (confirming the scale of hacking) to James Murdoch. Murdoch has always claimed he has never seen this email although yesterday he confirmed receiving it but he never read it.

In a revealing insight Crone reveals that as company lawyer, he represented a News Of The World journalist who herself had been the victim of a “sting”. Chris Atkins, director of “Starsuckers” a documentary on tabloid excesses had phoned the News Desk offering a story and ……according to Crone without irony, had infringed the young womans privacy. He had also demanded without irony to view the offending documentary before it was released. This is of course something The News Of The World would not have offered to its own victims.

Jon Chapman, another ex-News International Legal Advisor speaks from his role in “corporate” legal matters. He states that he would have assumed that Tom Crone would have been the guardian of ethics on the “newspaper” side of the business. This included his role advising on the legal position in respect of monies that “rogue reporter”, Clive Goodman believed due to him.The settlement amounted to well over £200,000 and the inference was that this was generous to prevent a closer look at methods used to obtain stories and the damage to reputation. As was his involvement in dealing with compensation to Glenn Mulcaire.

Chapman seems more in command of facts than Crone. There are no lapses of memory.

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