In a judgment handed down yesterday in the Chancery Division, the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire was ordered to provide information identifying the “News of the World” journalists who instructed him to hack into voice mail messages. In Phillips v News Group Newspapers ( EWHC 2952 (Ch)) Mr Justice Mann ordered Mr Mulcaire to provide information relevant to the claim being brought by Nicola Phillips, a former employee of Max Clifford’s company, against the News of World arising out of alleged phone hacking.
Mr Mulcaire, who was sent to prison in January 2007 for intercepting the voicemail of eight people, had challenged the questions posed on behalf of Ms Phillips on the grounds that providing answers might incriminate him.
The order which was sought was that Mr Mulcaire should “swear and serve” an affidavit setting out the following information:
“a) The nature of the exercise he was instructed to perform which resulted in him intercepting the Claimant’s mobile phone messages and in the course of so doing preparing [the Mulcaire list].
b) The nature of the exercise he was instructed to perform which resulted in him intercepting phone messages from individuals connected with Mr Max Clifford.
c) The identity of the person or persons who instructed him to perform the exercise which resulted in him intercepting the Claimant’s mobile phone messages and in the course of doing so preparing the list of mobile phone numbers referred to above.
d) The identity of the person or persons who instructed him to investigate individuals connected with Mr Max Clifford.
e) In relation to [one number on the list, being that of Mr Edmonson]:
(i) Why was this identified as that of ‘Ian’?
(ii) Was it because the number was already known to him as that of one Ian Edmonson?
(iii) How did it come about that the number was already known to him as being that of Ian Edmonson?
(iv) Did Ian Edmonson request him to investigate the Claimant?
(v) Did Ian Edmonson request him to investigate individuals connected with Max Clifford?“
Mr Mulcaire sought to resist providing answers on the basis of the “privilege against self-incrimination”. Mr Justice Mann agreed that the privilege was applicable but held that the evidence would be covered by section 72 of the Senior Courts Act, which removes the privilege in inter alia, “proceedings for infringement of rights pertaining to any intellectual property or for passing off“. As a result, the judge ordered that Mr Mulcaire should provide the information.
The case is discussed by Nick Davies in the “Guardian” who suggests that
“The judgment opens the door to the eventual disclosure of evidence that could have a powerful effect on News International, Scotland Yard, the Press Complaints Commission and the prime minister’s media adviser, Andy Coulson, all of whom have claimed that Mulcaire acted without any official sanction from the News of the World”.