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  1. Media Law
October 25, 2012

Mirror lawyers launch internal investigation into four phone-hacking claims

By Andrew Pugh

Trinity Mirror’s new chief executive Simon Fox has confirmed the company’s lawyers have launched an internal investigation into four allegations of phone-hacking.

The inquiry comes days after it emerged that four people are taking action against Mirror Group Newspapers – publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People – at the High Court, including former England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Fox emailed staff yesterday afternoon saying the company had still not received the claims from Mark Lewis, the lawyer representing the claimants, it would be “irresponsible of me not to ask our lawyers to look into the four claims that have attracted this recent attention”.

“My clear observations over my first few weeks at Trinity Mirror are that the company operates to the appropriate ethical standards and our editorial procedures and processes are robust," he added.

“As we have consistently said, all our journalists work within the criminal law and the Press Complaints Commission code of practice."

Simon Fox

But the former-HMV chief also expressed alarm at the level of coverage over the allegations this week, saying he was “deeply concerned” that the “four unsubstantiated claims can attract publicity of such magnitude”.

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Press Gazette understands that Trinity has still not received any of the claims from Lewis.

The three other claimants in the case are Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati, Abbie Gibson, a former nanny for the Beckham family, and Garry Flitcroft, the former captain of Blackburn Rovers football team.

They allege breach of confidence and misuse of private information relating to the interception and/or misuse of mobile phone voicemail messages and/or the interception of telephone accounts.

It is the first time that civil actions over alleged phone hacking have been launched against newspapers outside Rupert Murdoch's News International.

Lewis first revealed plans to pursue the four civil claims back in August 2011 but it was another 14 months until the claims were lodged at the High Court.

Mark Lewis

Trinity’s shares fell by 12 percent in early trading on Tuesday morning when the allegations first emerged.

The company released this statement following the initial allegations earlier this week: "We note the allegations made against us by Mark Lewis in today's papers.

 "We have not yet received any claims nor have we been provided with any substantiation for those claims.

 "As we have previously stated, all our journalists work within the criminal law and the Press Complaints Commission Code of Conduct."

In July 2011, Trinity Mirror launched a review of its editorial controls and procedures in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that triggered the closure of the News of the World.

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