Three items of “phone hacking news” this week. First, at a hearing before Mr Justice Vos on Monday 20 June 2011, lawyers for 28 claimants made an application for disclosure of documents held by the police which they said were needed to prepare for the trial of lead cases and current issues which is now fixed for the end of January 2012. They sought an order that the Metropolitan police provide disclosure of over 11,000 pages of documents seized from Glenn Mulcaire in 2006. It was said that the archive also included several mobile phones and 111 recordings Mulcaire made, which are stored on cassettes and MiniDiscs. The last figure is noteworthy because the previously published figure – as a result of FOIA request by the Guardian’s Nick Davies – was that the police had seized only 30 audio tapes.
The application was opposed by the Metropolitan Police. News Group and Glenn Mulcaire. The hearing was adjourned to 27 June 2011 in order to enable the claimants’ lawyers and the police to attempt to reach agreement on the limits of disclosure.
There were reports of the hearing, inter alia, in the Guardian and the Telegraph. The Independent noted comments by Leading Counsel for the police that the police’s ability to investigate criminality in the phone hacking scandal has been “substantially affected” by requests for documents from victims.
Second, on Tuesday 21 June 2011 News International announced News Group Newspapers had “reached an agreement with Andy Gray to pay him £20,000 in damages plus undisclosed costs”. The settlement was widely reported – with little additional comment (although some newspapers, for example, the Independent, drew attention to the difference between the announced settlement sum and the order made by the Court in the Sienna Miller case).
Third, on Thursday 23 June 2011, Operation Weeting officers made a fourth arrest – a 39 year old woman named in some parts of the media (for example, on Sky News) as Terenia Taras the ex-girlfriend of Greg Miskiw, the News of the World’s former assistant editor. The Yorkshire Post has the story, under the headline “Yorkshire journalist arrested in phone hacking probe” – pointing out that Ms Taras had previously been on the staff of the “Dewsbury Reporter”.
The Guardian reported that Ms Taras contributed more than 30 articles to the “News of the World”. This appears to be partially acknowledged by News International’s statement that
“This morning’s events did not relate to a current employee or a former full-time member of staff of the News of the World”.
The three earlier arrests were of present or former News of the World journalists: assistant news editor James Weatherup, chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former assistant editor (news) Ian Edmondson.
Two further hearings in the phone hacking litigation are to be held next week before Mr Justice Vos – the adjourned disclosure hearing on Monday 27 June 2011 and a further Case Management Conference (the third) on Friday 1 July 2011.