U.K. Court: News International Must Pay Andy Coulson's Legal Fees in Phone Hacking Scandal

Phone Hacking
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In April 2011, attorneys for the phone-hacking victims alleged that as many as 7,000 people had their phones tapped into by the NOTW employees who had hired private investigators, starting in 2006, to access the mobile accounts of celebrities, athletes, politicians and other people of interest. Then, in 2007 the paper's royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, was jailed for four months after pleading guilty to illegal interception of personal communication. Today, the paper's parent company News Corp. announced it would close the 168-year-old publication (its last printing will be July 10). News Corp. deputy CEO James Murdoch also admitted to paying out-of-court settlements amidst reports that some of the phones that had been hacked belonged to the family members of deceased war. The same day, former NOTW editor Andy Coulson was informed of his impending Friday arrest.

The former "News of the World" editor had appealed an earlier court decision in favor of the U.K. newspaper unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

LONDON - The court of appeal here on Wednesday ordered the News International unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. to pay former News of the World editor Andy Coulson's legal fees in phone hacking cases.

The company had stopped paying the legal bills last August. It wasn't immediately clear how much money the decision could add to News Corp.'s expenses related to phone hacking.

Coulson, who also is a former communications consultant for British Prime Minister David Cameron and has been charged with phone hacking in a legal case that is scheduled to go to trial next fall, recently challenged a high court ruling that News International was not liable for his legal bills.

His lawyers argued that criminal charges stemming from his work as editor of the shuttered Sunday tabloid were covered by a clause in his employment contract. A News International lawyer had argued in that case that "the clause covers doing his job as editor," but "it is not part of his job to hack telephones."

Coulson's lawyers also highlighted that News International had agreed to indemnify Rebekah Brooks, the former CEO of the U.K. newspaper unit, and journalists for its tabloid The Sun.

News International wasn't immediately available for comment.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai