April 18th, 2012
01:35 AM GMT
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New York (CNN) – Don’t look now, but the phone hacking scandal that shuttered the British tabloid “News of the World” and cost James Murdoch his job at BSkyB is about to hit stateside - at least if Mark Lewis has his way.

The UK lawyer who represents alleged victims of phone hacking, including the family of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, is in New York this week meeting with lawyers and exploring legal options against parent company News Corp.

Lewis, who represents three to four people – one believed to be an American citizen and one person from the world of sport – says his clients phones were hacked while they were on U.S soil.  The incidents are linked to alleged hacking that took place at the “News of the World,” but when I sat down with Lewis in New York, he was quite clear he believes the problem is much more widespread.

“It's a systemic problem that is really coming from the extent of ownership by one company - power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lewis said. “When you have a very wide media ownership, it moves onto the fact that it has power and it can look at that power and use that power perhaps wrongly.”

Lewis was careful to say he does not have any hard evidence right now that phone hacking occurred at any other News Corp. publication, but he believes this new round of legal action may in fact uncover more wrongdoing.

“It seems uncanny that you would say the only detectives were this one in America and Glenn Mulcaire (in the UK) and News of the World was the only newspaper.  If one house gets burgled and one burglar gets caught that doesn’t mean he is the only burglar, it just means he is the only burglar that got caught.”

Lewis’ plan to move forward with legal action is being watched closely by investors. To date, stock owners have largely stood by the company, believing that the phone hacking problems were isolated to the UK.  If any evidence turns up that it happened at the media conglomerate’s U.S. outlets, it would be a game changer.

News Corp. would not comment for this story.  Critics say Lewis is pursuing a case in the U.S. to tap the deeper pockets of parent company News Corp., which is based here.  But Lewis says this is about something more.

“This is not about an individual.  It is also not about money for people.  For the most part the people who instruct me, they want to know the truth. They want to find out what happened.”

News Corp. has paid out millions of dollars in settlements to phone hacking victims, including a reported $4 million to the Dowler family.  But pursuing the media giant has also come with costs for Mark Lewis. At the height of the UK investigation, he says reporters from “News of the World” put him and his family under surveillance.  Lewis was fired from at least one law firm and turned down for jobs at others, he said.

I asked if he was afraid of the consequences of pushing this legal battle to on to U.S. soil.

“My job as a lawyer is to stand up for the client and therefore I am not scared of Murdoch.  That is what you do, you stand up, you tell the truth and you hope not to take a personal risk, but sometimes you have to,” he said.

Though I have been swapping emails with Lewis for months, this is the first time I met him in person.  He is unusually frank for a lawyer.  He has overcome a lot of obstacles, fought hard to get where he is and still has an outsider’s edge.  In a strange way I think he and Murdoch would get along quite well if they met under different circumstances.

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soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. LLC1923

    If I need a lawyer, I'll call Mark Lewis.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:38 am |
  2. nate

    if mark lewis needs a legal intern, he can contact me.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:48 am |
  3. Ian Hall

    When BAE systems bribed overseas officials the full weight of American law descended on them (even though the offence did not take place on American soil). Will the full weight of American justice now descend on News Corp? Are they fit and proper people to control so much of the UK's media?
    If Briton lied to the US Congress there would be outrage, so what if it is proved that James Murdoch lied to our Parliament?

    April 18, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  4. drew

    The sad truth is the soldiers will take the fall for this while the people responsible for it will get away clean. The executives should be tried under RICO.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:42 am |
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    April 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  6. Sharp

    Lets run this foreigner & Fascist out of our country. His so called news is anything but. At least W.R. Hearst was an American.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  7. Chris Travers

    I am reminded by the Clarke and Dawe skit on the original incident:

    Dawe: He said he had never been humbler.
    Clarke: Let's see what he said.... He said 'This is the humblest day of my life'
    Dawe: So was he humble or was it the day?
    Clarke: I think it must have been the day, maybe the weather.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  8. Bonez2

    As am American living in the UK, I was very happy to see the parliamentary investigations into NewsCorp. Before the UK, Australia had issues with Rupert Murdoch's media agencies trying to influence their election. Rupert Murdoch is a very nasty peace of work who has tried time and time again to destroy the ethics behind journalism. I hope he faces the same sort of scrutiny back in the States.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  9. Sam

    I don't know why this father and son are not in jail for the rest of their lives.

    April 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  10. Terry

    I only have one question: If Murdoch is found guilty of criminal charges for hacking U.S. phones and / or other crimes, will the FCC pull the Fox "News" network license and licensing for other parts of his evil empire?!?!?!

    April 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  11. Michael D'Angelo

    Theodore Roosevelt framed the issue he had indentified more than 100 years ago: the “unnatural alliance of politics and corporations” to enthrone privilege.

    Mr. Murdoch hails from the current generation of robber barons whose disguise is thinly veiled. How is it that we heard the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of African slaves, and hear similar cries for less government today among conservative Tea Party activists whose funding sources are the monopolizers of economic opportunities?

    The ordinary citizen is onto them. Resisting the corruptive power of money, they inherently seem to understand that choosing a Republican president in 2012 is like asking the chief burglar to become chief of police.

    Experience Life among the Ordinary, a site dedicated to the trials, tribulations & progress of ordinary citizens, and contemplate the opportunity to plan America's future at

    April 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
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    May 15, 2012 at 4:38 am |
  13. Ismatu

    It would be one thing if the Republicans supported an atuacl minarchist policy. It would still be a problem, as the very existence of the state makes impartiality impossible, but at least it would be a defensible philosophical position. Instead the Republicans endorse a combination of sweet heart deals and regulation (which of course often amount to the same thing.)

    May 15, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  14. don't thinkso

    Anybody want to know the rules that guide Murdoch and Faux Noise in America? Look up an old article (1950) by then Yale professor Dr. Leonard Doob published in the "Public Opinion Quarterly", (c. by Princeton University Press). Doob derived from Goebbels' 6800 page diary a set of propaganda principles that he and Hitler followed. It sheds light on what they thought would maintain public support for their efforts. Fox appears to be following an eerily similar type of propaganda agenda, and it's working-in America, studies show 57% believe it is real news...real news! Time for someone to crush this menace to freedom and put Murdoch in jail-and shut down FOX news!

    July 24, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
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