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News: Phone Hacking – new rulings on redactions

In the last 10 days there have been a number of hearings and key rulings about disclosure of information and documents either from  the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire or from the Metropolitan Police.  These have all been given after public hearings.  A reserved judgment in another case is due to be handed down today.

On 17 February 2011 the interior designer Kelly Hoppen sought a Norwich Pharmacal order for disclosure of documents seized by the Police from the offices of Glenn Mulcaire.  Mr Justice Eady accepted that he had jurisdiction to make the order and granted the order.

The judge was asked to rule on redactions in respect of notes that he was shown by Edwin Buckett, counsel for the Metropolitan Police. In a number of previous cases the police have sought to make substantial redactions to the disclosed. Having looked at the unredacted Mulcaire documents the Judge held :

“I was inclined at first to be very sympathetic to [the police submission] … namely that there was no need to see anything at all apart from what is highlighted, because it is prima facie confidential.  But, as I think Mr. Justice Sweeney pointed out in the course of argument in this other case, it is not confidential information in the sense that it relates to somebody’s private life or relationships or health, or anything like that.  It is purely, or appears to be, so far as I can see, names, in some cases addresses, in some cases telephone numbers.  One can see why potentially somebody in the claimant’s position might want to investigate matters with one or more of those persons, as potential witnesses.  I certainly would draw the line, I think, at these pin numbers which are very intimate and personal, enabling people to get on to voicemail…

It seems to me that the appropriate order to make is that the documents should be disclosed to the claimant’s advisers.  The only items which I can see are appropriate for redaction at the moment are pin numbers.  For example, the number itself can be taken out, although leaving in the word “pin” so as to show what is missing there. “

The Judge also granted disclosure orders against News Of the World journalist Dan Evans and News International Supply Company Limited which were dealt with by consent.

The Guardian and the Independent have today reported that Paul Gascoigne, George Gallaway and Mick McGuire yesterday sought and obtained disclosure orders against the police  and Vos J held that the police should not redact the names of journalists form the News of the World if they appear  in Mulcaire’s notes.

Mr Buckett, again representing the Metropolitan Police , told the Judge  that the order would mean the police “having to listen to every transcript to see if Mr Gascoigne is mentioned”. There are “hundreds of intercepts”, he said. “It makes it so wide, it’s difficult to comply with.”

Mr Justice Vos is reported to expressed concerns over the management of the number of cases coming before the courts

“There have been numerous parallel applications with different counsel and solicitors … raising identical or nearly identical points”.

He said that he wanted to avoid duplication.  Jeremy Reed, counsel for Mr Gascoigne and Mr McGuire, said that there were at least 14 cases before the courts and there was speculation there would be many more.

It has been reported that:

The Metropolitan Police has dedicated 45 full-time detectives – more than triple the number deployed to investigate illegal expenses claims by MPs – to its new inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal”.

Mr Justice Vos will, today, hand down judgment in the application brought by Andy Gray and Steve Coogan against Glenn Mulcaire to disclose the names of those persons who had instructed him to intercept voice messages of the Claimants.

These decisions will have a  significant impact on the extent that the police are entitled to redact names and information so that potential victims are given as full a picture as possible.

1 Comment

  1. Joe Ury

    Gray v News Group Newspapers Ltd & Anor [2011] EWHC 349 (Ch) (25 February 2011)

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