In the Media

Ex-editor told to pay own legal costs

PUBLISHED December 22, 2011

Andy Coulson, the former News of the World Editor, is facing a legal bill of more than £100,000 after losing a High Court action against his former employer over its refusal to pay legal fees arising from the phone-hacking affair.

Mr Coulson, who resigned as David Cameron?s director of communications in January, had sued News Group Newspapers (NGN), a subsidiary of News International, the parent company ofThe Times, over its claim that his severance agreement with the tabloid did not cover legal support to defend criminal allegations. He had asked Mr Justice Supperstone for a declaration that NGN, which stopped paying his legal fees in August, ?must pay the professional costs and expenses properly incurred? by him ?in defending allegations of criminal conduct? during his time as editor.

But the judge dismissed the claim, saying that the agreement did not cover the criminal allegations made against Mr Coulson personally and if, contrary to his view, the criminal allegations were covered, no proceedings had commenced.

He ordered Mr Coulson to pay NGN?s costs and refused him permission to appeal, although he can apply directly to the Court of Appeal. A source close to the case said Mr Coulson would face costs running ?well into six figures?.

In a separate case at the High Court, Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who hacked phones on behalf of the NoW, has won his case against NGN?s decision to stop paying his legal fees relating to 70 claims against him and the tabloid.

NGN had paid Mr Mulcaire?s legal costs until July 19, when Rupert and James Murdoch were questioned by a Commons select committee and challenged about the payment.

Sir Andrew Morritt, the Chancellor of the High Court, ruled that NGN was still liable for his fees, adding: ?They are, as they always were, in it together.?