In response to reports about his role in advising the News Corporation board, Lord Macdonald, a trustee of Index on Censorship, comments:
In connection with the police investigation into phone hacking, News International has been conducting a trawl of News of the World data records. Recently, this trawl turned up a number of emails that appeared to suggest that some senior journalists on the News of the World may have been involved in making corrupt payments to police officers.
Hickman Rose, a leading criminal law firm, engaged me to examine these emails and to provide advice to the News Corporation Board on their content. I advised them, inter alia, that the emails appeared to be evidence of serious crime and that they, and any other supporting material coming to light must be handed over to Scotland Yard. The News Corp Board immediately accepted this advice and the emails and other material were passed over to police last month. As a result of this disclosure of information, police have been able to commence an investigation into the question of payments to police by News of the World journalists.
My role has been confined to advising on this single issue. I have not seen any material relating to the phone hacking investigation nor provided any advice in relation toit.
Jonathan Dimbleby, Chair of Index on Censorship, comments:
I am pleased to confirm that, in the circumstances described by Lord Macdonald, Index on Censorship sees no conflict of interest with his role as a trustee. It is an important aspect of our approach to the protection of free speech that any trustee who is also a lawyer should be free to represent any client in the absence of such conflict.