The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog

Case Preview: Various Claimants v News Group Newspapers, Trial of phone hacking cases to begin on 18 January 2018

On 18 January 2018, nearly seven years after the managed litigation began, Mann J will begin hearing the trial of  generic issues and four lead cases in the third wave of the Mobile Telephone Voicemail Interception.

The case involves the Sun and the News of the World and, in addition to claims based on allegations of unlawful voicemail interception also concerns the use of private investigators and destruction of documents.

There are four test claimants: comedian and actor Vic Reeves, journalist and TV presenter Kate Thornton, actor Jimmi Harkishin and talent manager Chris Herbert.  All the claimants alleged that they were victims of voicemail interception by the News of the World and in some cases the Sun, which led to the publication in articles of private information derived from such interception.

In addition there is a very substantial generic case being determined at the trial for the benefit of the four test cases and the other fifty claimants in the current claimant group.

The generic cases concerns a number of interrelated  issues including:

  1. The extent of voicemail interceptions at the News of the World and whether it went on in the Features Department before January 2005.
  2. Whether voicemail interception took place at the Sun newspaper and the extent of such interception.
  3. The use of private investigators for unlawful blagging of telephone information, medical and other private information and pinging and the extent of the such use.
  4. The issue of concealment of evidence at NGN including false public statements and destruction of evidence including emails and computers

There will not be any evidence from any of the senior executives or journalists who were employed by the Sun or the News of the World.

The trial is expected to last 4 to 5 weeks.

The claimants are represented by David Sherborne and Julian Santos of 5RB and the defendants by Clare Montgomery QC, Anthony Hudson QC, Ben Silverstone and Aidan Wills of Matrix Chambers.

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