CoA ruling on Mulcaire privilege case imminent

The Court of Appeal will next Wednesday (1 February) decide whether the private investigator at the centre of the News of the World (NoW) phone hacking scandal must disclose who instructed him to intercept voicemails.

The much anticipated ruling comes after Glenn Mulcaire instructed his lawyers to challenge a High Court order that he could not rely on privilege against self-incrimination (PSI).

The Court of Appeal convened its highest ranking judges – Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger, and the vice-president of the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Maurice Kay – to hear the appeal over two days in November.

The case joined together two sets of proceedings launched against Mulcaire by comedian Steve Coogan and publicist Nicola Phillips.

Schillings partner John Kelly has been instructed by Coogan in all his claims relating to the News of the World, with Taylor Hampton solicitor advocate Mark Lewis instructed by Phillips. The lawyers jointly instructed Hogarth Chambers’ Jeremy Reed to respond to the appeal.

Payne Hicks Beach partner Sarah Webb, who has represented Mulcaire throughout the civil proceedings brought against him, instructed Doughty Street Chambers’ Gavin Millar QC to lead 5RB’s Alex Marzec.

Blackstone Chambers’ Tom de la Mare was also involved, having been instructed by the Treasury Solicitor for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills as an intervenor.

Mr Justice Vos first granted Coogan the order in February last year (see judgment). The case had parallels with Phillips’ case, although in the latter Mr Justice Mann granted Mulcaire a right to PSI (see judgment).

Mann J held that the proceedings were “for the infringement of rights pertaining to intellectual property” and therefore privilege was not applicable under the Senior Courts Act of 1981. Permission to appeal was granted and both orders were stayed pending the joined appeal, which was heard in November.

If Mulcaire is forced to reveal who asked him to intercept voicemails, sources close to the case said it could pave the way for a fresh round of claims against NoW owners News Group Newspapers (NGN).

“Other potential claimants will be free to question him about exactly he was asked to do,” a source said. “It’s of huge importance and you can see the courts are taking it very seriously, just look at the judges involved.”