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

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most