A compromise agreement signed by Andy Coulson when he left his position of Editor at the News of the World indemnified Mr Coulson against the legal costs of him “having to defend, or appear in, any administrative, regulatory, judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings as a result of his having been Editor of the News of the World.”
When Mr Coulson was arrested due to allegations of conspiracy to unlawfully intercept communications and making unlawful payments to police officers, Newsgroup Newspapers refused to pay for his further legal costs. Mr Coulson applied to the court for a declaration on the true meaning of the clause in the compromise agreement.
The High Court judge decided that “the proper construction of the clause is that Mr Coulson’s duties as Editor comprise only lawful activities” and that the indemnity clause did not cover criminal proceedings following allegations in which Mr Coulson was personally responsible.
The Court found that his role as Editor comprised only lawful activities. Accordingly, it cannot have been intended that activity outside the scope of an Editor’s lawful responsibilities would be covered by an indemnity; still less that the indemnity should extend to any serious criminal activities for which he was alleged to be personally responsible
Coulson v Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd