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July 21, 2011 6:44 PM

News Corp. Unit Frees Firm from Confidentiality Requirement

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

Attorneys from Harbottle & Lewis will have a chance to defend their reputation and involvement in the  News Corporation phone-hacking scandal after all.

Denied a request to speak about their role in the case Wednesday, News Corp.'s U.K. subsidiary News International reversed itself later that day and released their former lawyers from the bonds of client confidentiality, Legal Week reports.

News International announced its change of heart in a statement Wednesday evening, authorizing Harbottle to answer questions from police and government officials regarding what the firm was asked to do as part of its role in a 2007 internal investigation at the newspapers.

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch publicly accused Harbottle of making mistakes in its investigation during the earliest stages of the phone-hacking scandal at the company. The firm's role in that investigation was roundly criticized during Murdoch's parliamentary hearing on Tuesday, and authorities have called on Harbottle lawyers to testify. 

In another legal development, News Corp.'s board hired Linklaters Thursday, making it the latest of several firms the company has hired to advise an internal management and standards committee that is reviewing the events at issue in the scandal, a source briefed on the hire confirmed to The Am Law Daily.

The committee, which is headed by U.K. attorney Lord Anthony Grabiner of One Essex Court, is also being advised by Debevoise & Plimpton partners Mary Jo White and Michael Mukasey. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison partner Mark Mendelsohn is also advising the company on FCPA matters.

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