The lawyer acting for Sven-Goran Eriksson and the Beckhams' former nanny has been told by the publisher of the Daily Mirror to provide evidence proving that their phones were hacked by journalists working for the newspaper.
The former England coach and Abbie Gibson are among four public figures whose lawyer, Mark Lewis, alleged last month that their voicemails had been illegally accessed by reporters employed by newspapers owned by Trinity Mirror. The others are the former footballer Gary Flitcroft and the Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati.
In a statement, Trinity Mirror said yesterday it had still been told nothing about the claims and had instructed lawyers to force Mr Lewis, who is representing the group of four, into providing all the details he held on the cases. Mr Lewis dismissed the threat, saying the claims had been properly issued through the Royal Courts of Justice and were "proceeding in accordance with the rules". "Ultimately the cases will be determined by the judge on the basis of the evidence, rather than Mirror group saying they have not seen the cases," he said. "It might be a better use of [Mirror Group Newspapers'] resources if they asked their employees and former employees what had happened."
A fortnight ago Mr Lewis, one of the leading lawyers who helped expose phone hacking at the News of the World, said he was preparing to file civil claims against Trinity Mirror's national newspapers.
The legal action alleging the illegal interception of phone messages is the first to go beyond titles owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International. A criminal trial centred on phone hacking at the NOTW is due to be heard next year.
Details of the action against Mr Lewis were discussed yesterday by Simon Fox, Trinity Mirror's chief executive, during calls with investors and analysts on the company's recent financial results. The hacking allegations hit Trinity Mirror's share price hard. On the day the story broke, Mirror shares fell 12 per cent.
An interim trading statement to investors, issued by Mr Fox yesterday, stated: "Following the extensive publicity given to recent claims of alleged wrongdoing by Trinity Mirror journalists, the board can confirm that no such claims have yet been served, nor have the particulars of such claims been provided."