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Court orders naming of celeb phone hack hacks

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A judge has ordered the private investigator who intercepted the voicemail messages of politicians and celebrities to name the journalists who commissioned the illicit hacks.

Glenn Mulcaire and disgraced News of the World Royal correspondent Clive Goodman were jailed for six months and four years, respectively, back in 2007 after they were convicted of intercepting voicemail messages sent to royal aides, offences contrary to the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act.

Mulcaire also hacked into the phone messages of publicist Max Clifford, football agent Sky Andrew, the Professional Footballers' Association's boss Gordon Taylor and supermodel Elle Macpherson, among others. These incidents provoked privacy lawsuits and payouts of £1m to Taylor and his colleagues at the players union.

Revelations about the payouts reignited the affair and prompted an investigation by The Guardian that phone hacking was rife at the NoTW at a time when it was edited by Andy Coulson. Coulson resigned over the Goodman affair, only to land on his feet as communications director for David Cameron. The Metropolitan Police initially declined to re-open its investigation into the affair.

However, a report by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee into the affair, raised further questions about the reliability of News International witnesses. A further investigative article by the New York Times prompted police to arrange an interview with Coulson, who agreed to meet police and spoke to them as a witness rather than a suspect.

Meanwhile the courts continue to grapple with the fallout from the case. A judge presiding over a privacy violation lawsuit brought by Nicola Phillips, a former assistant to celebrity publicist Max Clifford and alleged target of mobile phone hacking, has ordered Mulcaire to name the New of the World journalists who order him to hack phones.

Mr Justice Mann ordered Mulcaire to answer questions from Phillips' legal team, including whether Ian Edmonson, the News of the World's news editor at the relevant time, ordered the hacking, The Guardian reports. Mulcaire sought to avoid answering such questions on the grounds that they might open him up to further charges of phone hacking (ie self incrimination), but the judge rejected these arguments.

If Mulcaire continues to refuse to answer questions he risks being held in contempt of court, an offence that is almost certain to result in a further stretch behind bars.

The case has implications for the wider NoTW phone hacking scandal; if Mulcaire names journalists in the paper, this could undermine News International's repeated claims that Goodman was a rogue reporter who operated alone using tactics not sanctioned by editorial bosses. ®

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