A dossier of evidence outlining alleged "widespread illegal information gathering" by News International journalists was ordered to be disclosed yesterday as part of the phone hacking claim being brought by former MP George Galloway.
The Respect leader was granted access by a High Court judge to the "Blue Book", the details of data ordered by the reporters from private investigator Steve Whittamore, who was convicted in 2005 of breaching the Data Protection Act by supplying illegally-obtained information – including ex-directory phone numbers and criminal records – to a series of national newspaper groups.
Jeremy Reed, the barrister representing Mr Galloway, who is suing the News of the World over the alleged hacking of his voicemails, said his client believed the dossier, compiled by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), would provide evidence of "a widespread illegal information gathering exercise" by journalists at News Group Newspapers (NGN), the holding company of the NOTW.
The ICO investigation found Whittamore supplied both legal and illegal data to reporters. A report said his largest customer was the Daily Mail followed by the Sunday People, the Daily Mirror, The Mail on Sunday and the News of the World.
Mr Justice Geoffrey Vos, ordering the disclosure of the ICO material, said it was "very relevant to the activities of NGN journalists in obtaining illicit information about well-known figures."