Newly discovered email sent by News International executive has 'enormous significance' for phone hacking investigation

Mr Justice Vos pointed to email as affecting evidence heard by the Leveson Inquiry earlier this year.

A newly discovered email sent by a News International executive which refers to the illegal phone hacking of a “well known victim” was described in the High Court today as having “enormous significance”.

Although the identity of the sender and what it contained was protected by the court, the judge, Mr Justice Vos, pointed to it affecting evidence heard by the Leveson Inquiry earlier this year.

Details of the email and its “instruction” relating to voicemail interceptions were given to a pre-trial management conference in the second wave of civil actions against Rupert Murdoch’s now-closed tabloid, the News of the World.

Counsel for the victims’ group, David Sherborne, told Mr Justice Vos that he should understand the “enormous significance of that email.”

The message was alleged to have been discovered almost four months ago by News International’s solicitors, Linklaters, during a search operation directed by the Metropolitan Police. However it was only disclosed to the team of victims’ lawyers this week.

Mr Sherborne complained to the court about the disclosure speed from NI, the absence of detail on how it was discovered, why it had remained hidden, and what methods had been used to finally find it.

Millions of emails from News International’s data archives have been searched during Scotland Yard’s probe into illegal practices at the company. It was hinted during the case hearing that the executive may have used colloquial language that escaped the formal language of other data trawls.

The judge said it could have been found in “an old fashioned manual search” and, waving the computer mouse beside him on his bench, mimicked the possible moment it was found with the words “bing, bang, bong ... gosh!”

He said if Linklaters had found it in an inbox they may have “put it somewhere near the bottom”.  He said Linklaters had “apologised” for failing to tell the claimants or the Leveson Inquiry” and promised they would “do better in the future.”

A formal trial date for the second wave of hacking claimants had been set for February next year. However in attempt to prevent a third wave of  civil claims against News International, the court date is now likely to be pushed back to Easter 2013. An “advert” is also being drawn up which will be placed in law journals advising those still thinking about taking legal action to act now.

The hearing was told that around 100 new victims are eventually expected to proceed with civil actions against News Group Newspapers and Glenn Mulcaire.

Currently 417 people had begun the process of obtaining initial disclosure from NI.

News International’s own compensation programme has so far been contacted by 247 individuals, with 79 accepted into the internal scheme.

The jailed private investigator Glenn Mulcaire who was regularly commissioned by the NOTW to carry out illegal voicemail interceptions, was yesterday expected to hand over information on who inside the now-shuttered Sunday newspaper had hired him for hacking jobs.

A ruling by the Supreme Court last month gave Mulcaire, who was jailed in 2007 along with the NOTW’s royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, till 4pm yesterday to hand over the information on who hired him to illegally access the voicemail of Nicola Phillips, an assistant working at Max Clifford’s PR firm in London.

Following legal argument on the Supreme Court judgement, Mr Justice Vos ruled that the information, for the moment, should only be shown to Ms Phillips’ barrister, her solicitor and the Metropolitan Police.

Further legal debate on who will be given access to Mr Mulcaire’s list will take place on July 30.  The hearing will focus on article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights which concerns the right to a fair trial.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot