The Daily Telegraph

Mir­ror pub­lisher tar­geted judges, hack­ing hear­ing told

- By Daily Tele­graph Reporter Crime · White-collar Crime · Discrimination · Law · Human Rights · Society · Piers Morgan

MIR­ROR Group News­pa­pers tar­geted senior judges who had granted pri­vacy in­junc­tions, a hack­ing hear­ing has been told.

Pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tors hired by the pub­lisher of the Daily Mir­ror tar­geted “senior mem­bers of the ju­di­ciary”, in­clud­ing High Court and Court of Ap­peal judges, lawyers rep­re­sent­ing dozens of vic­tims of al­leged phone­hack­ing said yes­ter­day.

The claim was made at the lat­est hear­ing in the long- run­ning lit­i­ga­tion brought against MGN over al­leged un­law­ful in­for­ma­tion-gath­er­ing ahead of a six-week trial due to be­gin in Jan­uary. The judges said to have been tar­geted were not iden­ti­fied in court doc­u­ments seen by the PA news agency and no ref­er­ence to the claims was made in doc­u­ments filed by MGN’S lawyers.

David Sher­borne – rep­re­sent­ing a num­ber of claimants, in­clud­ing John Les­lie and Mar­tine Mc­cutcheon – said there were cur­rently 68 claims which had been filed against MGN, with 18 of those “el­i­gi­ble” to be heard at next year’s trial. James Heath, a so­lic­i­tor with Atkins Thom­son, who rep­re­sents some of the claimants, said in a wit­ness state­ment: “Con­trary to the pop­u­lar im­pres­sion that MGN’S news­pa­pers ‘only’ tar­geted celebri­ties with its un­law­ful ac­tiv­i­ties, MGN pur­sued any­one and ev­ery­one to suit its agenda in the most egre­gious way, in­clud­ing senior mem­bers of the ju­di­ciary, such as High Court judges, par­tic­u­larly those who granted anonymity in­junc­tions in pri­vacy pro­ceed­ings – with such tar­get­ing con­tin­u­ing to be car­ried out at least as late as the mid­dle of 2011.”

Mr Sher­borne also ap­plied to the court for per­mis­sion to amend the claimants’ writ­ten case against MGN to ar­gue that Piers Mor­gan, the for­mer editor of the Daily Mir­ror, was “well aware of the ex­ten­sive use of ... un­law­ful in­for­ma­tion-gath­er­ing ac­tiv­i­ties”.

Richard Spear­man QC – rep­re­sent­ing MGN, which is de­fend­ing the claims – said in writ­ten sub­mis­sions that “Mr Mor­gan’s pur­ported knowl­edge as to the ex­ten­sive use of un­law­ful in­for­ma­tion-gath­er­ing ac­tiv­i­ties is ir­rel­e­vant” to whether MGN’S board or l egal de­part­ment was aware of al­leged phone hack­ing.

The hear­ing be­fore Mr Justice Mann, who is con­sid­er­ing var­i­ous ap­pli­ca­tions for pre-trial dis­clo­sure, is due to con­clude to­day.

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