Glenn Mulcaire, the British private detective who hacked celebrities’ voice mails for the News of the World tabloid, was required to reveal by today for the first time the names of the News Corp. (NWSA) employees who directed him.
Mulcaire lost a Court of Appeal ruling last month to avoid saying who asked him to intercept phone messages left for six public figures, and who received the transcripts. While 14 arrests have been made this year, the only person known to have worked with Mulcaire is Clive Goodman, the paper’s former royal reporter who was jailed for hacking in 2007.
“It will be very interesting to see if anybody is named by Mulcaire who hasn’t yet been arrested,” said John Kelly, the lawyer at Schillings in London whose lawsuit on behalf of comedian Stephen Coogan led to a High Court order against Mulcaire. “If this is the case, we would of course pass that information to the police.”
News Corp. was forced this year to abandon a long-standing claim that hacking had been limited to one “rogue” reporter, after police evidence made public in dozens of celebrities’ lawsuits showed the practice was more widespread. London police opened a new probe in January, leading to the recent arrests and News Corp.’s decision to close News of the World and scrap a planned bid for British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. (BSY)
The High Court ordered Mulcaire to provide the list of names to Kelly by today, Kelly said. The list could be filed with the court as late as Aug. 30, he said.
The Press Association reported today that Mulcaire’s solicitor sent a letter to Coogan’s lawyers revealing the names of News of the World staff who directed the private investigator to hack phones. Sarah Webb, the solicitor, said she couldn’t publically disclose the names of the employees, according to the Press Association. Webb earlier declined to comment to Bloomberg News.
The Court of Appeal backed the High Court ruling that having the identities of journalists who instructed Mulcaire could assist Coogan in proving there was a conspiracy at News of the World and that hacking took place on an “industrial scale.”
Mulcaire argued unsuccessfully that the identities weren’t relevant since he has already admitted the privacy breaches.
The order applies to the celebrities whose phones Mulcaire tapped when he pleaded guilty to hacking in November 2006, including model Elle Macpherson, according to the ruling. Mulcaire also pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack the phones of three members of the royal household.
Those arrested this year include former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former assistant editor Greg Miskiw, former news editor Ian Edmondson, former features writer Dan Evans and former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck.
In January 2007, when Mulcaire was sentenced to six months in jail, his lawyer told the court that the voice mails for people other than the royal family hadn’t been intercepted for Goodman, the royal reporter, “but for others in the same organization,” according to court records in the case.
Mulcaire sued News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper unit earlier this month. He claims a breach of contract because the company stopped paying his legal bills, according to a person familiar with the case who wasn’t authorized to speak about it publicly.
Mulcaire, who started working for News of the World as early as September 2001, didn’t have a desk at the newspaper’s office and worked under an exclusivity agreement, according to the judgment. He was hired to do “legitimate” work, the paper said.
News International, based in London, has apologized to hacking victims and agreed to pay about 100,000 pounds ($163,490) to settle actress Sienna Miller’s claims and another 20,000 pounds to sports commentator Andrew Gray. The company faces a “test” trial in January, when a court will decide how much the company should pay in damages to five other victims, including actor Jude Law.
Coogan said he was notified by his mobile phone company in 2005 that someone had called the company pretending to be him and seeking personal details. He later received calls from people claiming they had dialed the wrong number and had voice messages deleted before he listened to them, he said.
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