The names of the News of the World executives who told the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to hack the mobile phones of prominent figures are due to be revealed next week, as a result of legal action taken by the comedian and actor Steve Coogan.
Mulcaire has lost an appeal against a court order secured by Coogan that requires him to name the newspaper figures who told him to listen to the voicemails of the model Elle MacPherson and five other people, including Simon Hughes MP, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Coogan's lawyers believe that the release of the names will demonstrate that there was widespread knowledge and authorisation of phone hacking among the defunct Sunday newspaper's senior figures.
In a separate development yesterday, the former News of the World feature writer Dan Evans, 35, was arrested and held for questioning on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemails. Evans, who was suspended by the paper in April last year, was bailed until October.
Evans was suspended by the paper after the interior designer Kelly Hoppen, who is stepmother to actress Sienna Miller, brought a damages claim alleging that he tried to hack into her voicemails in June 2009. The Sunday tabloid and lawyers for the journalist have said no evidence was found to support Ms Hoppen's claims. It is thought that Scotland Yard arrested the writer over separate phone-hacking allegations.
Mulcaire, who was jailed in 2007 after pleading guilty to hacking the phones of members of the royal household for the NOTW, must now also reveal who authorised the hacking of phones belonging to Max Clifford, the celebrity PR guru, the football agent Sky Andrew, Gordon Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers' Association and Jo Armstrong, a legal adviser to the body.
Mulcaire challenged a February court order instructing him to release the names. It has just emerged that Lord Justice Toulson declined to give Mulcaire leave to appeal the order in a ruling earlier this month.
Mulcaire is also resisting a separate order to identify the executive who told him to access Coogan's phone. But the investigator's stance may have changed as he is now suing News International over unpaid legal fees in respect of the civil cases in which he is a defendant. The company had paid Mulcaire £246,000 in fees but the payments were halted last month.
Coogan said: "I remain frustrated by Mr Mulcaire's refusal to answer questions about who authorised him to unlawfully access my voicemail messages and will continue to press for these answers."
Mulcaire, who in 2006 pleaded guilty to hacking five of the six individuals named in the order, must give details by the end of next week of who commissioned the hacking and to whom he passed the information he obtained.
His evidence could prompt police to question other former NOTW journalists. Police have arrested 14 people, including James Desborough, the paper's US editor, held this week. The information revealed by Mulcaire will be of interest to Mr Hughes, who plans to sue News International and was expected to seek a court order forcing Mulcaire to reveal who asked him to intercept his messages.
Mr Taylor signed a gagging order after agreeing a £700,000 payment to settle his breach of privacy claim against News International.
* A Scotland Yard detective has been arrested and suspended by his own force over leaks during the Operation Weeting phone-hacking investigation. The arrest of the 51-year-old man follows a series of stories that appeared in The Guardian.
It has been alleged that the paper's website reported the arrest of James Desborough, the News of the World's former US editor, before it took place.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, who is in charge of Operation Weeting, said: "I made it very clear when I took on this investigation the need for operational and information security. It is hugely disappointing that this may not have been adhered to.
"The MPS takes the unauthorised disclosure of information extremely seriously and has acted swiftly."