Private detective Glenn Mulcaire is not protected under the UK’s equivalent to the Fifth Amendment, the Supreme Court said Wednesday. After a nearly two-year legal battle to avoid such disclosure, Mulcaire will have to turn over possibly self-incriminating evidence, the names of journalists at the News Of The World who allegedly instructed him to intercept voice messages, and how victims were allegedly targeted, according to The Guardian. The ruling stems from a breach of privacy suit brought against Mulcaire by Nicola Phillips, assistant to celebrity publicist Max Clifford. Phillips’ attorney Mark Lewis contends the decision establishes precedent. If so, it could impact the ongoing investigations into phone hacking at the defunct tabloid by potentially uncovering the extent of such practices and who was aware of them.
It’s the latest and potentially most high-profile lawsuit yet to come out of the UK phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed News Corp’s British newspapers. The company has already settled more than 50 lawsuits related to probes that uncovered the widespread hacking of celebrities’ and political figures’ voicemails by News Of The World journalists — and officials think the number of victims is much higher. But Cherie Blair’s suit, filed yesterday against News Corp’s News International unit and convicted hacker Glenn Mulcaire, could shine a spotlight onto just how high the illicit practices might have gone; already, News Corp settled claims by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s former press chief and Deputy PM. “If it is true that a former prime minister’s family have been targeted by Rupert Murdoch’s hackers, then it is clearly a significant moment in the scandal,” said Labour Party MP Tom Watson, a vocal leader of a parliamentary committee investigating the scandal, wrote in an e-mail to Bloomberg. The scandal has resulted in several different investigations, and most recently eight journalists at Murdoch’s The Sun newspaper were arrested and suspended for their alleged roles in bribing police officials. Murdoch lifted that ban last week and announced The Sun would launch a Sunday edition to replace News Of The World’s now-defunct Sunday tabloid. It debuts this week.
New revelations in the News Of The World phone-hacking scandal have emerged over the past day. A 2008 email from the paper’s then-editor Colin Myler to James Murdoch — in which Myler alerted Murdoch of alleged rife phone hacking practices — was deleted from Murdoch’s account in January 2011, less than two weeks before Scotland Yard launched Operation Weeting, the investigation into phone hacking at the newspaper. The deletion resulted in the email not being a part of the initial evidence in the investigation. In a letter to the U.K.’s Culture Media and Sport Committee, lawyers for News International say Myler’s copy of the email was lost in a “hardware failure” in 2010 and that Murdoch’s copy was deleted by a member of News International’s IT staff during an email stabilization and modernization program. Murdoch has previously acknowledged answering the email when he received it but has contended he did not read the entire chain.
British police have made what could turn out to be a high-profile arrest in conjunction with the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp’s former tabloid News Of The World. Metropolitan Police officers took a 41-year-old man into custody this morning in London who is believed to be private eye Glenn Mulcaire, a prominent figure in the ongoing investigation. Police said in a statement to the press that the man had been arrested “on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemail messages … and on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.” This is one of few of the 18 arrests in the case to include the latter charge. When contacted by Deadline, the Met said it could neither confirm nor deny the identity of the man and wouldn’t release a name until formal charges had been made. However, The Telegraph reports that neighbors of Mulcaire’s say they heard “something going on” at his house this morning.
Hacking Update: News Corp’s UK Arm Offers Compensation Plan As Number Of Victims Rises; Arrest At Murdoch-Owned Sun
News Corp’s UK newspaper arm News International, the company that controlled the now-shuttered tabloid News Of The World, has set up a website for victims of the paper’s admitted phone-hacking scandal to seek compensation rather than go to trial. The company has appointed former UK High Court judge and arbitration expert Charles Gray “to act as an independent adjudicator to assess applications for compensation under the scheme.” The site could be busy fast: it launched the same day that London police revealed that they have ID’d 5,795 people in the notebooks of private eye Glenn Mulcaire, who was contracted by NOTW to hack into phones before his eventual arrest in 2006. The Metropolitan Police told the Financial Times that the number of hacking victims could be 50% higher than originally thought and more names could be uncovered. Meanwhile, the UK hacking probe spread from NOTW to the News Corp-owned tabloid The Sun on Friday, when Scotland Yard arrested a Sun journalist as part of a related investigation into News Corp employees bribing police and other government officials. News International confirmed the arrest, saying “the company is cooperating fully with the investigation.” It’s the first time the scandal has been linked to other Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers.
The decision by parliament’s Culture Media And Sport committee to recall James Murdoch and Les Hinton could be important. But it isn’t surprising. The committee investigating the News Of The World hacking scandal has a lot of questions about whether Murdoch may have tried to cover up the defunct tabloid’s lawbreaking now that two former executives have contradicted one of the News Corp Deputy COO’s key claims. Murdoch says he believed only one reporter had been involved with phone hacking in 2008 when he agreed to pay a hacking victim an astronomical $1.4M settlement on the condition that the victim keep quiet about the matter. At the time, the company publicly said that hacking was limited to a single rogue reporter. But former NOTW lawyer Tom Crone and editor Colin Myler recently told the committee that before Murdoch agreed to the payoff, he had seen an email that made it clear a second reporter could be implicated in the case. The committee also wants to know about News Corp payments to two people convicted of hacking: former NOTW reporter Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
UPDATE: If prosecutors decide to charge several people over the allegations surrounding former News of the World journalists, all the defendants would likely be tried at the same time, London’s Telegraph reports today. Because of the parallel police inquiries into phone hacking and police corruption, any trials are likely to be delayed until the spring of 2013 as detectives sift through thousands of documents. And since some of the possible defendants could face trial relating to both inquiries, the media is likely to be banned from reporting any of the evidence in any of the trials until all have been concluded.
EARLIER, AUGUST 19, 12:20 PM: We could hear some important revelations next week in the News Of The World scandal: Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire is expected to disclose by Friday who at the defunct tabloid asked him to hack the phones of six people including model Elle MacPherson, PR agent Max Clifford, and former Professional Footballers Association chief Gordon Taylor. The Telegraph reports that on August 1st Mulcaire lost his appeal of a court order to name names in the six cases — although he’s still fighting a different order to reveal who asked him to hack the phone of comedian Steve Coogan. The disclosure comes a day after Mulcaire sued News Corp for breach of contract: Last month the company stopped paying the legal bills for the PI who was convicted in 2007 of phone hacking.
News Corp may face a big problem with Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator convicted in 2007 of hacking voicemail messages for News Of The World. Up to now he has largely kept quiet about what went on there — even appealing a court order that required him to name NOTW journalists involved in voicemail spying. But he seems to be sending a message that his days as a good soldier may be over following James Murdoch’s decision last month to stop paying Mulcaire’s legal bills. Murdoch appeared embarrassed when asked about the arrangement last month during his testimony before the parliamentary committee investigating the hacking scandal. Murdoch said that he was “as surprised as you are” to learn that his company was helping Mulcaire. Shortly afterward the PI fired a shot across Murdoch’s bow by issuing a statement saying that had been “effectively employed” by NOTW and “acted on the instructions of others.” Now Mulcaire says Murdoch’s decision is a breach of contract. In a case filed this week at U.K. High Court, Mulcaire says that in June 2010 News Corp promised to indemnify him against the legal costs and damages from his appeal. News International says it will “vigorously” challenge Mulcaire.
One can now officially field a soccer team with arrested current or former News of the World employees who have come under scrutiny in the now-shuttered newspaper’s phone-hacking scandal. Today, former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, who essentially controlled the budgets at the paper during his tenure there from 1987-2009, was picked up on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept communications and corruption allegations, according to a police statement. The move comes as part of two probes into the News Corp-owned paper — dubbed Operation Weeting (focused on the phone-hacking investigation) and Operation Elveden (focused on potential bribery of police officials by News of the World employees). According to the Financial Times, investigators say that Kuttner’s purse-strings extended to Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective who was jailed for phone-hacking in 2007.
UPDATE, 4:30 PM: As part of Justice Department and FBI probes into allegations of bribery and the potential hacking of voice mails of 9/11 victims, News Corp today asked employees at its New York Post to save any information related to phone hacking or government bribes. The Wall Street Journal said a memo from editor-in-chief Col Allen said the measure was related to the scandal engulfing the News Corp-owned News of the World and “not because any recipient has done anything improper or unlawful.”
PREVIOUS, 9:37 AM: We have some interesting developments today in the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal:
James Murdoch should prepare himself for another appearance before the UK Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Chairman John Whittingdale said today that “the chances are” members will recall him to determine whether he lied to them last week. Murdoch said he approved a keep-quiet payment to a News Of The World hacking victim two years ago thinking that just one reporter had engaged in the practice. Three former News Corp officials contradicted him, saying that Murdoch had seen an email that made it clear at least one other reporter was involved — suggesting Murdoch was trying to cover up the extent of the scandal. The committee will question Murdoch’s challengers. “If they do come back with statements that are quite plainly different from those given by James Murdoch, we will want to hear James Murdoch’s response to that,” Whittingdale says.
Murdoch also may have a new problem with Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who pleaded guilty in 2007 to hacking for NOTW. In a statement today, Mulcaire says that he was “effectively employed” by NOTW and that “as an employee he acted on the instructions of others.” Last week Murdoch agreed to stop paying for Mulcaire’s legal bills.
Also, today Louise Mensch — a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee — apologized for saying last week that CNN’s Piers Morgan hacked phones when he worked on Fleet Street.
That didn’t take long: News Corp says this morning that it will no longer pay the legal fees for Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator that News Of The World hired to hack into people’s cell phones. The company says its management and standards committee met today and decided to “terminate the arrangement” to pay for Mulcaire’s lawyers “with immediate effect.” The decision comes one day after News Corp Deputy COO James Murdoch told a parliamentary committee that he was “as surprised as you are” to discover that his company was footing the bills for Mulcaire, who served a six-month sentence in 2007 for phone hacking. Murdoch added while he would ”like to” stop paying for Mulcaire, ”I don’t know the status of what we are doing now or what his contract was.”
The actor, who’s starred in several recent Fox releases including Marmaduke and Percy Jackson, is one of several celebrities whose mobile phone was allegedly hacked by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator hired by Murdoch tabloid News of the World. Coogan has instructed London lawyers Schillings to complain to the Murdoch publishing empire, and Schillings has written to News International threatening to sue. Coogan could argue that his privacy has been invaded and data protection laws breached. It will now be up to the newspaper giant as to whether it chooses to settle or defies Coogan in court. News Corp has already paid out more than $1.6 million settling similar legal cases,