In our 10th February blog, we reported on the Court of Appeal stripping Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the heart of the phone hacking scandal, of his privilege against self-incrimination (“PSI”) in relation to proceedings brought by Ms Nicola Phillips, a former assistant to the well known PR consultant Max Clifford. Mr Mulcaire’s PSI was withdrawn in this case by virtue of section 72 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 (the “Act”) which withdraws the privilege in situations including High Court proceedings for infringement of “rights pertaining to any intellectual property.”
The essential point upon which Ms Phillip’s action relied, was the definition that the term “intellectual property” is given by the Act at section 72(5) which includes “technical or commercial information or other intellectual property” which the High Court, and Court of Appeal, found to include the types of information that were discussed in Ms Philip’s hacked voicemails.
The upshot of the Court of Appeal’s decision was that Mulcaire remained subject to an order granted by the High Court, requiring him to reveal certain information relating to the scandal including the identity of the individual who instructed him to intercept the voicemails in question.
Since our last blog, Mulcaire lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately for him however, the Supreme Court has recently upheld (albeit for more limited reasons) the Court of Appeal’s conclusion that Ms Phillip’s proceedings were proceedings for rights pertaining to intellectual property.
As a result the way for Mr Mulcaire to be compelled to reveal the name(s) of those who instructed him to intercept the voicemails, and to whom he supplied the information, remains open.
His lawyers have indicated he is yet to decide whether to launch a further appeal, although in view of the Supreme Court’s clear ruling on the matter, it appears unclear on what grounds any further appeal would be based. What appears certain however, is that the phone hacking saga is far from over. Indeed, as and when Mr Mulcaire reveals the information the courts have ordered him to, media coverage of the scandal could reach unprecedented levels.
For more information on how we can help in relation to intellectual property and technology matters, please contact Quentin Bargate, Jonathan Lea or Andrew Denny.