Lawyer confronts NoW detective over child surveillance

Lawyer for alleged phone-hacking Mark Lewis victims last night challenged a private detective outside the Leveson Inquiry over a surveillance video of his teenage daughter.

Solicitor Mark Lewis followed investigator Derek Webb out of the hearing room and told him: “That was my 14-year-old daughter.”

Webb declined an invitation to apologise to Lewis during the inquiry session, saying he did not know whether the person he covertly filmed at a garden centre in Manchester in April 2010 was the media lawyer’s daughter.

Lewis stressed that there was no “confrontation” with the private detective.

Speaking after the hearing, he said: “I clarified to him that the girl that he had videoed was my daughter, who was 14 at the time. He did not accept the invitation to apologise to me because he did not know if it was my daughter that he had videoed.”

During the hearing, Lewis’s barrister, David Sherborne, asked Mr Webb: “You said you were asked not to follow children.

“We now know from the police that I understand at the time that you weren’t meaning to, but we now know that you did film Mr Lewis’s 14-year-old daughter.

“Mr Lewis is at the back of the court here. Is there anything you would like to say to him as a result?”

Webb replied that he had not seen the video that police showed Lewis and so could not confirm that they were talking about the same person.

The inquiry has heard that the News of the World commissioned Webb to follow Lewis and fellow lawyer Charlotte Harris to investigate whether they were having an affair amid concerns they were leaking confidential information they had gained from acting for phone hacking claimants.

Giving evidence last month, Lewis said: “That was truly horrific, that my daughter was videoed, was followed by a detective with a camera – I mean, just followed. That shouldn’t happen to anybody’s child.”

The inquiry heard that Webb was encouraged to join the National Union of Journalists by the News of the World – which he did – even though he did not see himself as a journalist. And it heard that he was prolific contributor to the News of the World working on a number of stories.

He said that about 85 per cent of its targets were celebrities – and that he included MPs in that total.

Webb revealed that the News of the World asked him to change his company name from Shadow Watch to Derek Webb Media Services. He said that he never received a copy of the PCC Editors’ Code – but he said that he was advised by the News of the World not to intrude on private property or to use surveillance on children.

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