Glenn Mulcaire, the ex-private investigator who hacked into celebrities’ voice mails for News Corp.’s News of the World, lost a U.K. appeal to avoid giving “incriminating” evidence in civil lawsuits against him.
The ruling today by the Court of Appeal in London upholds a judge’s order for Mulcaire to disclose who at the now-defunct tabloid told him to intercept phone messages left for a British actor and a celebrity publicist and what information was collected. Mulcaire’s lawyers argued that by doing so he would incriminate himself.
“I intend to appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court, because this may affect my right to claim” the privilege against self-incrimination “in other civil cases still being brought against me,” Mulcaire said in a statement released by his lawyer, Sarah Webb. Judge David Neuberger said Mulcaire doesn’t have to release the information until the nation’s highest court decides whether to review the issue.
Mulcaire and News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper unit were sued by dozens of celebrities and other victims whose phones were hacked to get stories. The company settled more than half of the 60 hacking lawsuits against it last month including those by actor Jude Law and soccer player Ashley Cole.
London police, who are examining Mulcaire’s notebooks and contacting hundreds of possible victims, have arrested more than 20 people in three related investigations, including the newspaper’s former editors, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.
Today’s appeal is part of separate lawsuits filed by actor Steve Coogan and Nicola Phillips, a former employee of celebrity publicist Max Clifford, whose voice mails Mulcaire intercepted. They won requests for the disclosure of documents that included their names or mobile-phone numbers.
In a statement outside court, Coogan’s attorney John Kelly said the decision “is likely to be relied upon by other phone hacking victims” in cases against News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper unit and Mulcaire.
Phone-hacking victims are giving testimony to a separate judge-led inquiry examining press behavior. Sienna Miller, a British actress, told the inquiry that the News of the World’s scoops led her to accuse her friends and family of leaking information to reporters. A similar claim was made by singer Charlotte Church.
Mulcaire’s evidence, if it’s disclosed, would shed light on the scandal just as several so-called test cases are preparing for the first phone-hacking civil trial scheduled to start Feb. 13.
“Mulcaire cannot claim privilege against self-incrimination” and “therefore he has to provide the information,” Judge Neuberger told a court this morning.
Mulcaire and Clive Goodman, a reporter for the News of the World, were jailed in 2007 for intercepting phone messages meant for members of Prince Charles’ staff and for Gordon Taylor, chief executive officer of the Professional Footballers Association. Mulcaire was also charged with intercepting voice mails left for celebrities including Elle MacPherson.
News Corp. closed the News of the World in July to help contain the five-year-old scandal. Mulcaire has successfully sued the company over claims it improperly stopped covering his legal fees after lawmakers questioned the payments.