The Daily Telegraph
Mirror publisher targeted judges, hacking hearing told
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.