The private investigator at the centre of the phone-hacking scandal today lost his appeal against orders that he cannot rely on privilege against self-incrimination in the proceedings.
Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed for six months in January 2007 for illegally accessing the voicemails of members of the royal household, challenged rulings that he did not have the right to refuse to say who asked him to intercept voice messages.
The orders were made in response to applications made by comedian and actor Steve Coogan and PR consultant Nicola Phillips in the run-up to their civil damages claims for breach of confidence against both News Group Newspapers (NGN) and Mulcaire, whom NGN had exclusively retained.
Three judges in the Court of Appeal, headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, refused Mulcaire permission to appeal their ruling, but granted a stay until 5pm on Monday pending an application for permission to the Supreme Court itself.
In a statement issued through his solicitor, Sarah Webb, Mulcaire, who was not in court, said there was no dispute that he was entitled to invoke the long-standing common law privilege against self-incrimination, subject to Section 72 of the Senior Courts Act 1981, on which the appeal hinged.
“I am pleased that the Court of Appeal has recognised that this privilege remains a part of our common law.
“It has also emphasised that it cannot be removed in civil proceedings without safeguards for the person at risk of prosecution.
“Though it considered that the Act removed my privilege in these two cases, the Court of Appeal considered the arguments put forward on my behalf in great detail in its judgment.
“It acknowledged that those arguments ‘appear to be of some general significance’.
“I intend to appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court, because this may affect my right to claim the privilege in other civil cases still being brought against me.”
Mr Coogan’s solicitor, John Kelly of Schillings, said later: “This is a very significant decision and is a landmark ruling in the area of privilege against self-incrimination.
“The Coogan decision is likely to be relied upon by other phone- hacking victims to assist them in their cases against NGN and Mulcaire.”