PCC paid Mark Lewis £20,000 libel damages over Buscombe comments

The Press Complaints Commission paid lawyer Mark Lewis £20,000 damages last year after he brought at libel action over comment made by its chairman Peta Buscombe.

The Commission reached a settlement with News of the World phone-hacking lawyer Lewis in November after he sued the press watchdog for libel.

Buscombe issued a statement of regret but the terms of the settlement were bound by a confidentiality agreement and were not made public despite calls from the Media Standards Trust for the figure to be revealed.

However, at hearing earlier this month related High Court case brought by Lewis against the Metropolitan Police Service revealed that the settlement had been £20,000 plus Lewis’s legal costs.

Lewis, who has acted for a number of those who claim their mobile phone messages were hacked by the News of the World, sued over comments made Buscombe at the Society of Editors Conference in November 2009.

In evidence to MPs in 2009, Lewis said he had been told by Met police officer DS Mark Maberly that some 6,000 people may have had their phones hacked by the News of the World.

In her Society of Editors speech, Buscombe said Maberly had been wrongly quoted by Lewis, and that the Metropolitan Police had said the correct figure on the number of phones hacked – only a handful – was given to the select committee by assistant commissioner John Yates and detective chief superintendent Philip Williams.

Lewis sued over this and over a statement Buscombe then made to a Media Guardian, when she told him: “Maberly has been wrongly quoted in saying that 6,000 people were involved. He didn’t say it. He is said to have said it.” He also called for Buscombe to resign.

Lewis claimed that these statements amounted to allegations that he lied to the media select committee about what DS Maberly told him.

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