Settlements are primarily matters between the parties to the case. It is a matter, therefore, for the claimant to decide whether to accept an offer at any stage, including, in some cases, before court proceedings have been formally issued. Therefore, we do not hold figures centrally to reflect the number of court cases that end as a result of a settlement out of court.
Did not Mr. Justice Vos, in the Max Clifford case involving the private investigators of Mulcaire, Whittamore and News International, order the disclosure of documents which would have shown the extent of the industrial scale of the defendants’ illegal hacking—so was not News International’s settling out of court with Mr. Clifford a manipulation of the judicial system to avoid compliance with the disclosure orders? Is not this a scandalous process, amounting to a £1 million cover-up to protect Tory director of communications Andy Coulson, then News of the World editor, from being accountable for the gross malpractices for which he was responsible—
I understand my hon. Friend’s concerns. Of course, any further investigation into allegations about phone-tapping is really a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service and the police. However, we are aware of the report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and we are considering our response to that. It has made some very serious recommendations, and we will of course take those on board and respond in due course.