News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, has been footing the bill for the DLA Piper lawyer representing former top News of the World editor Andy Coulson—but may stop doing so, according to the Financial Times.
Coulson, the former NoW editor and former communications chief to Prime Minister David Cameron, has been under investigation by police and parliamentary committees for his role in the phone-hacking and police-bribery scandal that ultimately killed the newspaper.
Coulson is being represented by Jo Rickards, a London-based white-collar criminal litigation partner at DLA Piper who bills at $650 per hour, according to the FT. While News International has so far been paying Rickards's bills, company management met recently to consider ending those payments, the FT reports.
News Corp. has not publicly confirmed whether its U.K. subsidiary has been paying Coulson's legal bills or whether it would continue to to do so, the FT said.
Rickards did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request from comment from The Am Law Daily.
On Wednesday, U.K. Labour Party member Tom Watson demanded News Corp. reveal whether or not it is paying those bills, according to The Huffington Post. Watson serves on the parliamentary committee holding hearings on the phone-hacking scandal.
Coulson, who quit NoW in 2007 amid the initial revelations about phone-hacking at the paper, is one of 15 people arrested in the scandal. The FT notes that Cameron and his Conservative Party have come under fire for later hiring Coulson as the prime minister's director of communications.
It has come to light that Coulson received severance pay and health care coverage from News Corp. after going to work for Cameron in 2007, but—in a violation of House of Commons rules—never revealed that he was getting those benefits. Coulson resigned his government post in January, but records show that he continued to hold a parliamentary pass for nearly two months past that point, HuffPo adds.