Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the centre of the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed the News of the World last year, will be forced to reveal the name of the journalist who directed him to intercept phone messages. In a unanimous decision, five supreme court judges today ruled that Mulcaire must pass on information about how hacking targets were chosen and who his contacts at the paper were to the legal team representing Nicola Philips. Philips, a victim of phone-hacking was an assistant to publicist Max Clifford and is currently pursuing a claim for damages.
The decision puts an end to Mulcaire’s 20 month fight to avoid disclosing the potentially discriminating information. Mulcaire’s previous attempts to protect himself from requests to reveal details of his links with News of the World reporters had been ruled against by both the high court and the court of appeal. Mulcaire had attempted to invoke privilege against self-incrimination to avoid disclosing any details that "expose him to prosecution." When delivering today’s ruling Judge Lord Walker said: "The supreme court unanimously dismisses Mr Mulcaire's appeal. Section 72 of the [Senior Courts Act] excludes his privilege against self-incrimination: the proceedings brought by Ms Phillips are 'proceedings for … rights pertaining to …intellectual property' and the conspiracy proceedings to which Mr Mulcaire would expose himself on disclosure of the information amount to a 'related offence'."
Within the next three weeks, Mulcaire is expected to inform Philips’ legal representatives of the names of the journalists who ordered the hacking and who received information collected through the interception of phone messages.
In a statement released after the judges came to their decision, Mulcaire revealed that he would evaluate his remaining options with the help of his legal team: "I will consider with my lawyers what the wider implications of this judgment are if and when I am asked to answer such questions in other cases."
Mark Lewis, the solicitor representing Nicola Philips, hailed the ruling as a “significant milestone,” telling the Guardian that : “It's a precedent that he's now got to pass this information on." Today’s ruling means that in any future court case the former private detective would be unable to defend his privilege against self-incrimination. Meanwhile, the names of the reporters involved, once revealed, could lead other victims of phone hacking to pursue civil suits against News International, the News of the World’s publisher.