Phillips v News Group, Mulcaire and Metropolitan Police Commissioner
 EWHC 2952 (Ch)
These proceedings followed the arrest of Mr Mulcaire who was sentenced to six months imprisonment in respect of various incidents where he hacked into mobile telephones messaging systems of several people.
The claimant, Ms Phillips, sought damages, injunctive relief and other relief against News of the World based on breaches of her rights of privacy and confidence.
She further sought disclosure by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner (MPC) of copies of any documents from their investigation into Mr Mulcaire which referred to Ms Phillips or her phone numbers. MPC drew the judge's attention to the requirements that needed to be fulfilled to justify ordering such a third party disclosure ((1) the documents will support the case of the applicant or adversely affect the case of the other party, or (2) disclosure is required in order to dispose fairly of the costs). Past cases show that when such a claim is made to the MPC particular consideration has to be taken with regards to confidentiality issues. There were no privacy issues here as the information was not provided to the MPC in confidence and Ms Phillips amended her original claim to protect the privacy of other people's phone activities. The judge was, therefore, satisfied that disclosure, appropriately limited, was necessary and it was granted.
Finally, Ms Phillips sought to receive an affidavit from Mr Mulcaire providing various types of information on who had instructed him, his actions and the reasoning for his actions. The judge deemed that Mr Mulcaire did not have to submit this affidavit due to the possibility self-incrimination which is a real and appreciable risk in this case. However, the judge ruled that s72 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 could apply to withdraw this privilege as some of the information that was being dealt with was capable of being of commercial value. He further dismissed the defence that Ms Phillips is 'fishing' for a case, despite the fact that much of it is based on inference.
URL Link: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2010/2952.html
Author Organisation: High Court (Chancery Division)