A JOURNALIST who is on the shortlist to be the next director general of the BBC has been accused of playing a part in the destruction of emails related to phone hacking by the publisher of the Sun and News of the World.

High court documents made public on Wednesday found William Lewis is part of the case being lodged by about 50 alleged victims of phone hacking against the publisher News Group Newspapers.

NGN is a subsidiary of News UK, which is run by Rebekah Brooks and ultimately controlled by Rupert Murdoch, through the parent company News Corporation.

The plaintiffs name Lewis in a 139-page document that was made public by Justice Mann at a remote case management hearing of the case of phone hacking by claimants against NGN. The case is due to go to trial in October.

Lewis said: “The allegation that I was involved in any wrongdoing is completely untrue.”

Lewis, who leaves the Wall Street Journal after six years this month, joined the NGN newspapers in 2010. A year later was seconded to run the controversial Management and Standards Committee tasked with cleaning up after the phone-hacking scandal.

In an interview with the Evening Standard in 2017, Lewis said: “If you want to win a popularity contest in life, don’t do these kind of jobs. The company faced an existential threat and it has a moral purpose to speak truth to power. We have a purpose to tell readers and the public about doing bad things but using legal methods. I did my bit to help with the legal process. I feel very sorry for the victims.”

Tony Hall announced last month that he would be resigning as BBC boss later this year.

READ MORE: BBC: Director-general job requires no experience making TV/radio

As well as Lewis, the shortlist to replace Hall includes two of the BBC’s most senior executives, Tim Davie and Charlotte Moore, and one other female candidate.

READ MORE: The BBC's search for a new director-general offers a one-off chance