Lord Prescott wins right to challenge Met in phone hacking saga

The High Court has upheld a judicial review application against the Metropolitan Police investigation into phone hacking allegations against the News of the World.

John Prescott
John Prescott

Mr Justice Foskett said former deputy prime minister John Prescott, MP Chris Bryant and the former Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick were all entitled to pursue judicial review proceedings against the London police force.

A fourth  person, freelance journalist Brendan Montague, was told that while there was no evidence that his phone had been tapped into by the Sunday tabloid some evidence may arise and therefore his case should be kept under review.

The decision overturns an earlier ruling given on paper by Mr Justice Mitting. Foskett J said Mitting J had not been provided with all the necessary facts of the case.

He added: “There can be little doubt that the factual scenarios in relation to Mr Bryant, Mr Paddick and Lord Prescott are different from those presented to Mitting J in the amended acknowledgement of service and grounds for contesting claim.”

The ruling gives a victory to Bindmans partner Tamsin Allen who instructed Matrix Chambers’ Hugh Tomlinson QC for the claimants (20 September 2010).

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, who was named as defendant in the case instructed James Lewis QC of Three Raymond Buildings.

The judgment states that unless the claims are settled a substanstive hearing will establish whether they have merit and can proceed.

The judge said given the ongoing police investigation into the phone hacking claims the applications should be kept under review.

Foskett J said: “Whilst placing such a provision at the foot of the order giving effect to my decision is unnecessary in the circumstances, the obligation on the part of the claimants’ advisers to keep the merits of the case (both generally and in relation to each individual claimant) under review, particularly after the defendant’s evidence has been served, is one they will, I’m sure, well understand.”

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