Media giant News International last week came under pressure at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards to waive privilege over advice from its solicitors.
Specialist crime firm Burton Copeland is the second firm instructed by News International (NI) whose role is under scrutiny at the inquiry. Questioning Rupert Murdoch last week, Robert Jay QC for the inquiry, asserted: ‘Throughout this story, this narrative, there's a consistent theme until April 2011 of cover-up. Cover-up in relation to the police, cover-up by Burton Copeland, either on News International’s instructions or of their own notion, and then cover-up subsequently.’
Addressing Murdoch directly, Lord Justice Leveson contrasted the decision to assert privilege with the fact that privilege was waived on an investigation undertaken for News International by media-focused firm Harbottle & Lewis.
Leveson said: ‘The company, waived privilege in relation to the work that was done by Harbottle & Lewis, so Harbottle & Lewis were able to talk… about what they did for News International and how they went about what they did. The other firm that were involved, Burton Copeland, a specialist criminal law firm, were apparently very heavily involved, but in respect of that firm, the company has not waived privilege.’
In a statement, Burton Copeland said it was instructed by NI in August 2006 to deal with ‘requests from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) relating to its then investigation consequent on the arrest of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire for "phone hacking".’
The firm subsequently provided information and documentation to the MPS. The inquiry continues.