Reputational hangover does for former Dir of Legal

Interesting story in the Press Gazette about the resignation of Paul Vickers from IPSO. Evan Harris, associate director of Hacked Off, is reported as saying:

“Only newspaper corporations which care nothing about the damage done to the innocent victims of the criminal abuse in their industry, and even less about the cover-ups or codes of silence which they have been engaged in, could think it acceptable for the body which controls the budget and the rules of the press regulator to have Paul Vickers at its head

“Paul Vickers was the legal director of Trinity Mirror for all the years that the industrial-scale hacking has now been admitted to have taken place across all three of its national titles.”

The problems may stem from allegations made by David Sherborne in litigation against the Mirror (I wrote about them here) and the kinds of criticisms made by Roy Greenslade.  Executives made a series of statements about the Mirror group’s adherences to the law and the press code which Sherborne appears to have alleged are knowingly false (we should bear in mind this is a press story and it may not accurately state Sherborne’s allegations or evidence in support).  An interesting question is a) whether that’s true and b) whether they made those statements on the basis of legal advice.  Greenslade’s story makes the point that there may have also been a failure to properly investigate allegations of hacking internally

The Mirror litigation is hotting up. Whether or not there are other revelations to be made in that litigation, Mr Vickers has paid the reputational price for his legal stewardship whilst at the Mirror group.  It is a salutary reminder that decisions made by in-house lawyers can have significant career consequences.  It is also a reminder that the legal risk around allegations of corporate misconduct have frequently proved to be ticking time bombs for the businesses and their senior legal staff.

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About Richard Moorhead

Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law and Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at the Faculty of Laws, University College London with an interest in teaching and research on the legal ethics, the professions, legal aid, access to justice and the courts.
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