Mark Lewis, the lawyer who has led the attack on hacking cases in the UK, has teamed with two New York law firms to represent at least four people, including one U.S. citizen, who may have had their privacy violated here by Rupert Murdoch-owned properties. If they decide to pursue the matter “I believe it will be taken seriously” by U.S. courts, one of the lawyers — Norman Siegel of Siegel Teitelbaum & Evans — said in a meeting with reporters today. ”These are serious issues.” Steven Hyman of McLaughlin & Stern is co-counsel. Lewis says the clients believe that their phones were hacked on U.S. soil between 2001 and 2006, and are named in notes of Glenn Mulcaire, the UK private investigator who cracked into people’s voicemail accounts for the Murdoch tabloid News Of The World. While the lawyers wouldn’t go into detail about their clients or plans, Lewis says that having U.S. lawyers may make it easier to question News Corp deputy COO James Murdoch, who recently moved to New York. “It becomes relevant to all sorts of issues,” he says. Lewis adds that none of the U.S. clients have cases in the UK that might be compromised by actions here.
The lawyers emphasized that this may be just the beginning of their U.S. efforts: Lewis says that people continue to contact him alleging that Murdoch journalists have used “untoward dark arts to obtain information that should be private.” Indeed, “people have contacted me saying they’ve had issues with Fox News” — although he says that he has no evidence that proves their claims are valid. Siegel, the former director of the New Yok Civil Liberties Union, says that he’s also receiving calls from people who believe that they’ve been victimized — including about six calls since this past Monday. He adds that in his experience “people come out of the woodwork” once they believe that lawyers are “serious and balanced in (their) approach.” The cases that Siegel is working on with Lewis are separate from ones he’s handling that involve alleged hacking into phones of families of 9/11 victims. The FBI is looking into that matter and its investigation “is ongoing,” Siegel says.