British phone-hacker forced to reveal mastermind

The News of the World investigator at the heart of Britain’s phone-hacking scandal has been ordered by a court to reveal who instructed him to illegally access voicemails, lawyers said.

Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed for six months in 2007 for intercepting messages on royal aides’ phones, has until August 31 to provide the information, which could be damning for executives at the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid.

Media law firm Schillings won the disclosure order in February at the request of actor Steve Coogan, who believes his own phone was hacked but Mulcaire had sought to appeal.

The Court of Appeal has refused him permission, the lawyers said in a statement Friday.

Mulcaire must now disclose who instructed him to hack the phones of model Elle McPherson, celebrity PR guru Max Clifford, football agent Sky Andrew, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes, Gordon Taylor, former head of the Professional Footballers’ Association and PFA legal advisor Jo Armstrong.

A separate appeal is underway over disclosure in Coogan’s case, according to the Guardian newspaper.

‘Significant development’
Schillings lawyer John Kelly said it was a “very significant development, as Mulcaire will now have to identify exactly who at the News of the World asked him to access the mobile phones of the named individuals and who he provided the information to at the News of the World”.

“Mr Mulcaire is due to provide these answers by the end of the month and we await his answers with interest,” the Schillings statement said.

After Mulcaire and the News of the World‘s royal editor Clive Goodman were jailed in 2007, the newspaper’s parent company, News International, insisted that the practice of hacking was confined to the two men.

Mounting evidence to the contrary prompted the police to reopen their investigations into hacking in January.

Since then 14 people have been arrested, including former News of the World editors Andy Coulson, later Prime Minister David Cameron’s media chief, and Rebekah Brooks, ex-chief executive of News International.

In a letter written in 2007 but only released last week, Goodman claimed that phone-hacking was “widely discussed” at the News of the World, which was closed last month over the scandal.—AFP

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