Rebekah Brooks’ lawyer has questioned whether his client will ever be able to get a fair trial after the storm of publicity surrounding the phone-hacking scandal.
Stephen Parkinson, the head of criminal litigation at Kingsley Napley and solicitor for Brooks, said there was ‘no excuse for the spectacular failure that occurred last week”, a reference to evidence given to the Leveson Inquiry by Met deputy commission Sue Akers.
- November 21, 2019
- November 29, 2018
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Giving testimony for a second time, Akers went into extensive detail about the criminal investigation into News International – despite the fact none of the journalists arrested had yet been charged with an offence.
On Tuesday it emerged the Attorney General was now considering whether Akers’ evidence amount to contempt of court, though several media lawyers have suggested the ‘fade factor’ makes this unlikely.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph today. Parkinson said that if a trial of his client goes ahead the judge would be bound to consider whether a fair trial was possible.
‘Those of us representing the current and former journalists, particularly at The Sun, who bore the brunt of the prejudicial comments, will inevitably make the point that publicity of this kind does not fade from the memory,’he said.
‘We have now had, over the past year, two extensive select committee inquiries; Leveson itself; a number of parliamentary debates and statements; and a continuing police investigation, which has produced 30 arrests,’added Parkinson.
‘Normally, our system protects those who are suspects in criminal investigations reasonably well. It allows them to maintain their silence until there is either a trial, in which all the facts can be put before a jury, or a decision that there is no case to answer.
‘In return, it restricts the circulation of facts, comment and speculation about their guilt or innocence. Last week, that did not happen – and it has not happened for much of the past nine months.
‘Witnesses have been summoned before both Parliament and the Leveson Inquiry. While those under police investigation have been permitted to maintain their silence on issues central to that process, others have been questioned with few restrictions.
‘As a result, much prejudicial material has come into the public domain.’
‘A deep sense of unease’
He went on to cite evidence give to the inquiry by former News of the World deputy features editor Paul McMullan, who accused Brooks of being the ‘criminal-in-chief”.
‘This was received uncritically,’said Parksinon.
‘Mrs Brooks had been denied permission to be a core participant in the inquiry, so no one was there on her behalf to challenge the evidence.
‘There was no cross-examination of Mr McMullan, his credibility or his motives.’
Parksinson believes evidence given by Met officers last week led to publicity in the press that was ‘huge, dramatic and sensational”.
‘Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry, and the other bodies investigating these events, have each been doing their job, and should not be criticised,’he continued.
‘But what is left is a deep sense of unease. There are a number of individuals out there whose reputations have been traduced.
‘Few people know the impact of such publicity on their lives, and the depth of stress and worry they have had to bear.
‘But each of us knows enough to question whether the public interest and the legal premise of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ have been served by what we have seen and heard.’
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