The final pre-trial maneuverings have concluded in the News Of the World phone hacking cases. five of the defendents were arguing that if people had already listened to the voicemail messages before they were hacked, then it didn't qualify as phone hacking under the relevent sections of the Regulations of Investigatory Powers act (RIPA).
The appellants made dismissal applications on a ground which raises the true construction of sub-sections 2(1), 2(2) and 2(7) RIPA. Expressed in general terms, the issue turns on when the course of transmission of a voicemail message ends and, in particular, whether a voicemail message which is saved by the recipient on the voicemail facility of a public telecommunications system remains in the course of transmission. The central point taken on behalf of the appellants is that the words “in the course of transmission” in section 1(1) RIPA do not extend to cover voicemail messages once they have been accessed by the intended recipient. The decision of Fulford L.J., endorsed by Saunders J., is that section 2(7) RIPA extends the concept of transmission to include the period when the transmission system stores the communication, in such a manner that enables the intended recipient to have access to it, whether or not it has previously been received by the intended recipient.The hearing was heald in front of Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge and two other judges who dismissed it almost with contempt, (here's the full case http://www.bailii.org/... )
"contrary to the submission on behalf of the appellants, the resulting situation is not lacking in legal certainty."and for that reason refused leave to appeal to the supreme court on this matter.
Now this case has been rumbling on in the background, but all the time unreported due to contempt of court laws. however the Lord Cheif Justice had this to say today
Lord Judge allowed the names of the defendants to be reported, saying: "We can see no possible prejudice to the fairness of the forthcoming trial.
"We must not be unrealistic - there can hardly be anyone in the country who does not know to whom this case applies."
In other news, The long awaited split between the two halves of the Newscorp Amoeba finally is happening, and the new print arm has written a letter to every UK MP, it's the standard "Lessons have been learned"stuff http://order-order.com/...
The other big story has been a fresh fight over the Leveson report and a claim that the vast majority of information crimes have not been comitted by PI's for the media, but it is in fact a far wider problem Tom Harper at the Independent has uncovered a "secret report" by the Serious Organised Crime Agency into phone hacking. Now this report has only been secret in detail, as the Summary has been published on the Agencies website since last year, but a number of the usual suspects have been using this report to suggest that there is nothing really to the press hacking, and shouldn't Leveson have looked at much wider illegality. the situation is getting a bit complicated, but may all be down to newspapers using the unrevealed evidence of witnesses for their own ends to attempt to derail any new Regulation
The week has had a variety of newspapers demanding that the Judge should be dragged before the Culture Media and Sport comittee to explain himself. The main problem there being the seperation of powers in the UK. The Judge himself can only be Invited to appear and he replied that he's not available until after the Summer recess. This pushes any possible appearance to the Week before the start of the Criminal cases, and that will necessarily limit the questions that can be asked even more than usually with a senior judge.
Lord Justice Leveson is at the centre of an extraordinary row with one of Britain’s leading law firms after claiming he was asked not to circulate a suppressed report detailing widespread illegal practices.
The secret document, written by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) – and revealed by The Independent last weekend – suggested that law firms, insurance companies and telecoms giants were routinely commissioning private investigators to obtain sensitive information by hacking, blagging and corrupting police officers.
Individual judges may also be invited to give evidence to Parliamentary Committees. In modern times, judges who have been asked to attend have done so voluntarily, subject to the well-established and long-standing rules and conventions that prevent judges from commenting on certain matters. Parliamentary Committees respect these rules and conventions. The prohibited matters include: the merits of government policy (save where the policy in question affects the administration of justice within a judge’s particular area of judicial responsibility); the merits of individual cases or decisions (although particular trials may be used as examples of practice when discussing general policy issues) or of particular serving judicial officers, politicians and other public figures, and the merits, meaning or likely effect of provisions in prospective legislation (in such a way as could be seen to call into question his or her judicial impartiality); and the administration of justice which falls outside his or her area of judicial responsibility or previous responsibility.When this is pointed out to press commentators that he can't be dragged before parliament their response has been little better than to stamp their feet and say "But he should be"