Wednesday 7 December 2011

What it's all about including Brady & Anor v PKF (UK) LLP

This is a place for chatting about legal issues which catch my eye.  Mainly it's about family law as that's my specialism.  However, I deplore narrow mindedness, so there'll be excursions into all sorts of other byways.

In fact, that's what I'm kicking off with - something which at present at least has nothing to do with divorces - phone tapping!

Brady & Anor v PKF (UK) LLP & Ors

Astonishing as it may seem, despite all the fury of 2011 over the historic phone hacking of past years, it now appears that in some quarters it has still not gone away.

Sports fans will doubtless have kept abreast of the contentious issue of what is to happen to the Olympic Stadium once the games are over.  In the summer the government announced that West Ham United were to have use of it as they would share it with athletics.  Spurs were the losing bidders, as they would have ripped up the running track and would have excluded all except football.  But it didn’t stop there – Spurs threatened judicial review of the decision and the government decided to change the plan to avoid the legal expense and complication.

So far so good, but it became clear in the High Court on Friday that the accountants used by Spurs in this spat had been using information hacked from Karen Brady’s phone as part of the fight back.  It really is hard to credit that despite all the media coverage, arrests, enquiries and scandal that anyone in 2011 can seriously think that phone hacking is a legitimate tactic.

An employee of Spurs has even said in a witness statement in the court proceedings, “I did not attach any significance to Howard Hill's reference to receiving telephone records.”  Just where has he been for the last 12 months or so?  How can anybody at all think that obtaining someone else’s phone records is remotely legal?  Someone, and no one is admitting just who this was, sent information to the Sunday Times based on those records and as a result, the paper published a story on 3rd July this year questioning how it was that West Ham got the nod.

The fact is that all is not fair in love and war.  The accountants, PKF, attempted to get the High Court to hold all the inevitable legal hearings in secret so that no one would hear what one of their partners had been up to.  The judge was having none of it though, and rightly so.  It seems that embarrassment, outright disgrace and even prison sentences are not yet having their effect. A major professional firm, on its own account of things, had received telephone records from an allegedly anonymous source and had not passed this information to the police or to the account holder, Karen Brady.  That’s not just reprehensible – it’s incredibly stupid!

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