News Corp. (NWSA) and the former private investigator who hacked phones for the News of the World tabloid were sued in Britain by a criminal-defense lawyer who newspapers said in 2007 had an affair with the country’s chief prosecutor.
The lawsuit by Kirsty Brimelow, of Doughty Street Chambers in London, was filed against News Corp.’s U.K. unit, which published the now-defunct title, and Glenn Mulcaire, 41, in the High Court on Aug. 13, according to court records.
Brimelow had an affair with Ken Macdonald, who at the time led the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service, the Telegraph and other titles reported in February 2007. The alleged relationship made headlines about a month after Macdonald’s agency secured prison terms for Mulcaire and the News of the World’s Royal Family reporter Clive Goodman. While the men pleaded guilty to phone hacking, the case failed to uncover the extent of the scandal.
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World in July 2011 after revelations it intercepted the voice mail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002, when she was still missing. The company is cooperating with police after admitting some of its journalists targeted celebrities, politicians, crime victims and people close to them until 2006.
U.K. tabloids published photographs of the two lawyers dining together and stationed reporters outside their homes in February 2007 to get reactions from them and Macdonald’s wife, according to news articles at the time. Neither Brimelow nor Macdonald commented on the reports of the affair.
Brimelow didn’t return calls or e-mails over three days seeking comment. The details of her claims weren’t immediately available.
Macdonald, who was director of public prosecutions at CPS from 2003 to 2008, declined to comment.
He was hired by News Corp.’s News International unit last year to advise its board as the phone-hacking scandal peaked. He reviewed internal documents that triggered a police probe into journalists bribing police and other public officials.
Mulcaire, who was jailed for six months in the first case, was charged again in July after a renewed police probe unearthed a larger conspiracy involving more journalists and thousands more potential victims than were known six years ago.
Macdonald joined Parliament’s unelected upper chamber, the House of Lords, in 2010. He told a Parliamentary committee last year that he had no reason to believe during the first case in 2006 that wrong decisions were being made regarding the phone- hacking prosecutions.
News International is seeking to settle as many as 100 civil lawsuits that are part of a joint court proceeding in London before a trial scheduled for February.
After leaving the Crown Prosecution Service, Macdonald returned to Matrix Chambers, which he helped found. It’s the same law firm where former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife Cherie Blair practices law. Cherie Blair also sued News Corp. over phone-hacking claims in February.
The case is Kirsty Brimelow QC v. Newsgroup Newspapers, HC12A03219, High Court of Justice Chancery Division.
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