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Ex-News Corp. Phone Hacker Asks Supreme Court to Block Evidence

May 8 (Bloomberg) -- News Corp.’s ex-private detective who was jailed in 2007 for hacking into mobile-phone messages asked the U.K. Supreme Court to let him withhold evidence in civil lawsuits that might incriminate him in a criminal case.

Glenn Mulcaire, who served six months in prison for intercepting voice mail for News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid, was re-arrested last year as part of a new probe involving thousands of newly identified potential victims.

Mulcaire “is in the unusual position of having to predict what he might be charged with,” his lawyer Gavin Millar said at today’s hearing in London. “He wants to clarify precisely where he can and cannot properly claim privilege against self-incrimination.”

Mulcaire seeks to overturn a Court of Appeal ruling in February that he must disclose who at the now-defunct tabloid told him to intercept messages left for Nicola Phillips, a former employee of celebrity publicist Max Clifford.

Phillips also wants to know what information Mulcaire collected from her messages and to whom he gave it -- a request that will likely be repeated in other cases if she wins. Millar argues that Mulcaire would incriminate himself if he turns over the evidence.

Intellectual Property

The court’s decision may turn on whether the information in the voice mail is considered intellectual property. Lawyers for Phillips argued in court papers that the privilege against self incrimination doesn’t apply when the disputed information is commercial or intellectual property.

Millar said in court papers that the information is “personal, not proprietary.”

The ex-detective’s police bail expires May 28, Millar said. The Metropolitan Police Service in London last month gave U.K. prosecutors files on potential charges against as many as 11 people, including up to four journalists, a police officer and six members of the public. Millar cited the files today as evidence of the urgency of Mulcaire’s case.

Mulcaire and Clive Goodman, a reporter for the News of the World, pleaded guilty in 2006 and were jailed the next year for hacking voice mail for members of Prince Charles’s staff.

Police have arrested about 46 people in three current probes, including the newspaper’s former editors, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, who are scheduled to testify this week at a media-ethics inquiry triggered by the scandal.

News Corp. closed the News of the World in July to help contain the scandal. Mulcaire successfully sued the company over claims it improperly stopped covering his legal fees after lawmakers questioned the payments.

Coulson, who lost a bid last year to have News Corp. pay his legal costs on the same day Mulcaire won his ruling on the issue, was granted permission to appeal today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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