The appearance of solicitor Mark Lewis
at the Leveson
Inquiry 30 November 2011 provoked
an angry response from a former client whose complaints have so far
been unreported in the British media. The solicitor advocate who acts
for the the parents of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler is accused
of introducing one of his clients to a notorious private eye who bugged
telephones in a defamation case.
The Legal Complaints Service has examined the allegations from a retired
civil servant, Mrs Pat Middleton, but ruled in 2008 that her complaint
about telephone tapping lay outside their jurisdiction. Mrs Middleton,
61, former treasurer of a Manchester Conservative club, has now discovered
that the private investigator had previously worked for the News of
the World and had just served a prison sentence.
After seeing Mark Lewis give evidence to Leveson about the hacking of
Milly Dowler's phone messages Mrs Middleton contacted a reporter.
'In 2005, when he was acting for me,
Mark Lewis talked about a private investigator accessing telephone
conversations illegally when gathering evidence to fight my case.
The investigator, who was described as one of the best in Britain,
played conversations back to me over the telephone. I questioned the
legality of it and its admissibility in court. I was told there were
ways and means by which it could be accepted.
When I saw him on television lambasting News International for doing
what he had condoned in my case, I felt sick. I was absolutely floored
when I saw this man speaking on behalf of the Dowler family. Exactly
the same things had been done on my behalf - accessing telephone conversations
Mark Lewis told Lord Justice Leveson
he had been retained by a number of alleged phone hacking victims including
Gerry and Kate McCann, whose daughter disappeared in Portugal, the Dowler
family, Sheryl Gascoigne, the ex-wife of footballer Paul Gascoigne,
and the property journalist Tom Rowland. He had taken out injunctions
against News International on behalf of the footballer Garry Flitcroft
and on behalf of Jo Armstrong, a legal adviser at the Professional Footballers
He obtained an injunction in respect
of a photograph showing Ms Armstrong with his client Gordon Taylor,
the chief executive of the Professional Football Association who received
£700,000 in compensation from News International.
At the Leveson Inquiry on December 16,
Mark Lewis confronted Derek Webb, a former Hertfordshire police officer
who had revealed that in 2010 News International had hired his firm,
Silent Shadow, to track Mr Lewis, 46, and his former assistant Charlotte
Harris when they were in Manchester.
Until 2009 Mark Lewis had been a partner
at George Davies Solicitors LLP in Manchester, the long-standing legal
advisers to the Professional Footballers Association. He has since moved
to London as a consultant at Taylor Hampton in The Strand. Miss Harris,
who represented publicist Max Clifford in a £1million settlement
with the News of the World, now works at the London firm Mishcon de
Enter Chris More
It was to George Davies Solicitors LLP that Mrs Middleton took her defamation
complaint in 2006. She believed that members of the Winston Conservative
Club in Wythenshawe had defamed her after she was wrongly accused of
taking cash from the safe.
'The police were brought in and I
was arrested but no charges were brought. Mark Lewis introduced me
to Chris More, a private investigator. I met them with my son Kenneth
in the office in Manchester.
Mr Lewis and Mr More talked openly about phone hacking. Mr More said
he had done it for the police, and that it went on all the time. Mr
More said he could produce the evidence to win the case. He said he
would get the evidence on tape, and that he had done it "lots
of times" and that he had done it for the police. When I asked
how could we use it if it was illegal, Mr More said,
"There are ways around it."
I have listened to taped conversations between parties involved in
the case and I have been given transcripts, although I no longer have
I have a copy of a receipt from Chris More for a retainer deposit
in the sum of £2000 and a letter from George Davies Solicitors
acknowledging that Mark Lewis introduced me to Chris More.
I was told the case would cost me £20,000 and we would win it.
I did win the case against those who had wrongly accused me, but the
judge made no order for costs.
I then took further took action against Mr Lewis and the firm of solicitors
he worked for, without success.
In all, my involvement with Mark Lewis has cost me £80,000.
I complained about his conduct.
Unknown to me, my elderly mother, who has since died, remortgaged
her home to fund the case. I would never have let her do that, but
she did it because she said she believed I was telling the truth,
in a vain hope that the justice system would uphold the truth in court.
Now I want the truth about Mark Lewis and the investigator to come
into the public domain.'
After losing her complaint case against
the solicitors, Pat Middleton contacted the News of the World, early
in the phone hacking scandal when Mark Lewis was acting for Gordon Taylor.
'They came and listened to me and
the reporter announced they would pay me £250,000 for my story.
Of course nothing ever materialised. I wonder why!'
The private detective was Christopher Guest More, 68, a millionaire
jailed at Chester Crown Court for nine months in 2004 for helping his
son to escape to Spain after the torture and murder of a cannabis farmer
in Cheshire. His son, also known as Christopher Guest More, had been
working for the BBC as a fixer and investigator on a programme called
Crooked Britain. He is still wanted by the Serious Organised Crimes
Agency and his picture, taken on his father's estate in Lymm, Cheshire,
appears on the Interpol Infra-Red list of wanted men.
Cheshire police say the murder case cost Chris More senior £350,000.
His technical ability is legendary. A former World in Action reporter
at Granada Television remembered More as 'The Ultimate Hacker' and stated
that during the legal battle between Jonathan Aitken MP and The Guardian,
Chris More played to his prospective clients recordings of telephone
conversations between the Tory defence procurement minister and his
Aitken's case against The Guardian and Granada TV collapsed after the
production of evidence that Aitken's wife had not paid for him to stay
at the Paris Ritz. Aitken was jailed for perjury in 1999.
Chris More had worked on investigations for News International for over
20 years, retained by their solicitors
Biddle & Co. in the million pound libel action brought against The
Sunday Times in 1988 by the 'socialist media tycoon' Owen Oyston. Rupert
Murdoch's senior UK executive Andrew Knight ordered the case to be settled
at lunchtime on the first day of the hearing.
Hired by Michael Murrin, a local political activist in Preston, Chris
More had obtained a bank statement for one of Oyston's estate agency
accounts. Murrin brought More to the attention of the local Tory MP,
Sir Robert Atkins, now MEP for North-West England. More was then hired
for thirty thousand pounds in fees, jointly paid by the former foreign
office minister the late Lord Blaker and the late Bill Harrison,
a property dealer who had several times hosted prime-minister Margaret
Thatcher at his home in Preston.
More delivered to Bill Harrison financial profiles of the Labour leader
of Preston, the deputy Labour leader of Preston and their wives. When
the documents turned up in Merseyside police files it was obvious that
they were based on Inland Revenue tax records.
The unprecedented theft of personal income tax information at Preston
was investigated by Dave Hartnett, now Britain's senior HMRC tax man,
after questions in parliament from Dale Campbell-Savours MP and a meeting
of senior civil servants in the office of Home Secretary Alun Michael.
Campbell-Savours, a member of the Commons Intelligence and Security
Committee, complained to Cumbria police that he was being harassed by
dozens of strange telephone calls, apparently generated by a computer
in Florida. He also complained in the Commons about his researcher being
harassed 'by a Manchester business man'.
In a 1998 confrontation in the Four Seasons Hotel at Manchester Airport,
Chris More told Campbell-Savours: 'Get off my back. I've been looked
at by the police. They knocked on my door.'
After Oyston won the libel case against the Sunday Times, Murrin and
More investigated Oyston's connection with the Model Team model agency
In January 1996, when Oyston was facing multiple charges of raping some
of the agency model girls, More told reporter Adrian Darbyshire of the
Blackpool Evening Gazette:
'Murrin contacted me to ask me to
get information about the model agency. We all thought Murrin was
a nutcase. He was talking about kids being provided for sex. Double
O [Owen Oyston] was in there somewhere, whether officially or by hearsay,
I can't say.'
Oyston was jailed for six years in 1996
for the rape and indecent assault of one of the girls. He has since
lost two appeals and an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights
A year later, More was named in Florida as one of 15 defendants accused
of racketeering, mail fraud and employing a Hambro subsidiary called
Network Security Management to bug the U.S. phone billing system and
steal items from the Florida home of Douglas Leese, a millionaire business
rival of the Littlewoods stores family.
Douglas Leese's New York lawyer David Jaroslavicz claimed in the 140
dollar million Miami action that More and the other defendants
'....stole and converted highly confidential
information from used typewriter ribbons, illegally diverted telephone
bills and contacted persons identified in those telephone records
under false pretences.
The defendants' ongoing and related activities in furtherance of their
improper goals constitute a "pattern of racketeering activity,"
in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations
Defendant Christopher More is a private investigator who does substantial
business in the State of Florida, and is believed to have a residence
in Florida. I still need to know more about the background of Mr Chris
More, the British p.i. who thinks he is James Bond.'
In a 2008 judgment on a High Court case
against the London solicitors Mishcon de Reya, Mr Justice Henderson
noted that one of Mr Lewis's clients was investigated by forensic accountants
after the bugging of the Edgware office of the newly-appointed chairman
of trustees at the British branch of the Jewish National Fund.(2)
(1) More's activities against Owen Oyston
were described in 'Our Friends
in the north West: The Owen Oyston Affair' in Lobster 34 (Winter
(2) Mr Justice Henderson's judgment, involving
evidence given by Dr
Anthony Julius, is online at <www.thejc.com/files/scan-judgment.pdf>.
Lewis and the ultimate hacker (Summer 2012)