A phone hacking scandal refresher

6 July 2011 by

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal has reignited over claims that phones belonging to the families of 7/7 bombing victims and murdered children such as Milly Dowler were hacked.

The scandal has been rumbling on since 2007, but is again the main story in the news. The affair has been the subject of a number of court hearings, mostly surrounding disclosure by News International in the ongoing private compensation claims by alleged victims. There are important issues of privacy and freedom of the press surrounding some of the allegations, but primarily this is a criminal investigation into the illegal hacking of mobile phones.

For those who are coming to the issue for the first time, or need a little revision, there is no better starting point than the International Forum for Responsible Media (INFORRM) Blog, which has been covering the scandal in meticulous detail since its launch around 18 months ago. In particular, see:

Also, see our most recent post on the issue, Police may have duty to inform victims of phone hacking, the BBC News Q&A: Phone-hacking scandal at News of the World and their useful timeline. Legal blogger David Allen Green has also been covering the scandal in detail, see his most recent post at the New Statesman: Reading what Rebekah Brooks says.

In other news…

With the phone hacking affair generating so much heat and light, there has been little space for other news. There have, however, been two other important legal stories in the last two days. First, the Sun and the Daily Mirror have been in court being prosecuted for contempt over their coverage of the killing of the Jo Yeates murder investigation, and in particular for their coverage of the early arrest of Christopher Jeffries. The current Attorney General has already successfully prosecuted the Daily Mail and The Sun for their online coverage of a murder case.

Secondly, the government has published the Police (Detention and Bail) Bill, the sole purpose of which is to reverse the effect of a controversial decision of the High Court which upheld a county court judge who overturned a long-standing practice in relation to police bail (see this post for background). The bill will be debated tomorrow – follow the official parliamentary bill tracker for updates. Yesterday, the Supreme Court declined to stay the High Court order, stating in a short press release:

This application is unusual and it is questionable whether it would be open to the Court to grant this relief. In any event, however, the judgment was given on 19 May and an application for permission to appeal was made on 21 June. The Government has announced its intention to introduce emergency legislation this Thursday, 7 July. In these circumstances, the Court has decided that the application should be dismissed.

Under Rule 37 of the Supreme Court Rules, the court may in “wholly exceptional circumstances” suspend the order of a court, as it did recently in a case involving a Home Office immigration policy to prevent forced marriages, pending the Home Office’s appeal in the Supreme Court. I cannot track down an official decision, but the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants reported the decision. Whether the Supreme Court has the power to stay a court’s interpretation of a statute is an open question, and one which the court itself appears to be unsure about.

In the meantime, the Home Office is pushing its bill through Parliament as quickly as possible, in the knowledge that the legal position of thousands of suspects on bail or in detention is questionable at best. The Supreme Court is to hear the appeal on 25 July, which although a very short timeframe compared to ordinary cases, will still probably be overtaken by a change in the law. The police may still be vulnerable to claims of unlawful detention, however, if the court upholds the decision.

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS

Read more

1 comment;

  1. ObiterJ says:

    Thank you for linking to my post on the Hookway (detention of suspects) case. A factor in the case which seems unsatisfactory is that the appeal from District Judge (Magistrates’ Court) Finestein was heard by a single High Court judge. Many deprecate this practice and I have heard some say that it is unlawful. Traditionally, case-stated appeals from Magistrates were heard by a Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division. I hope that the Supreme Court expresses its views about this.

    I also hope that the Supreme Court clarifies the position relating to stay of judgment/stay of execution.

    I would have liked to have seen a “sunset clause” in the Police (Detention and Bail) Bill so that Parliament had to revisit PACE 1984 Part IV and, hopefully, replace it with an updated code relating to detention and police bail. That is what is really needed in this extremely important area of criminal practice.

Comments are closed.

Welcome to the UKHRB

This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.




Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals Anne Sacoolas anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board care homes Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Commission on a Bill of Rights common law communications competition confidentiality consent conservation constitution contact order contact tracing contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs costs budgets Court of Protection crime criminal law Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation DEFRA deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention Dignitas diplomacy diplomatic relations disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Equality Act 2010 Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Facebook Facial Recognition Family Fatal Accidents Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage gay rights Gaza Gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Gun Control hague convention Harry Dunn Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Human Rights Watch Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests insurance international law internet inuit Iran Iraq Ireland islam Israel Italy IVF ivory ban Japan joint enterprise judaism judicial review Judicial Review reform Julian Assange jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid legal aid cuts Leveson Inquiry lgbtq liability Libel Liberty Libya lisbon treaty Lithuania local authorities marriage Media and Censorship mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery morocco murder music Muslim nationality national security naturism neuroscience NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury physician assisted death Piracy Plagiarism planning planning system Poland Police Politics Pope press prison Prisoners prisoner votes Prisons privacy procurement Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecutions prostituton Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries quarantine Radicalisation refugee rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania round-up Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials sexual offence shamima begum Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance sweatshops Syria Tax technology Terrorism The Round Up tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine universal credit universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Weekly Round-up Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: