The Claimants (Cs) were those who believed they had been the subject of phone hacking by News Group Newspapers (D1) and Glenn Mulcaire (D2). The hearing was of an application by the Cs against the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (R) for disclosure of information relating to phone hacking by journalists acting for D1.
The main evidence of hacking lay with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), and they had, in line with an agreed declaration made by the Administrative Court in an earlier part of the litigation, informed victims that it appeared to have taken place and given them some information about it.
Following Operation Weeting, an earlier MPS investigation into phone hacking at D1, an agreed regime was put in place to permit the provision of information by the MPS to claimants. This was intended to yield information without repetitive applications for disclosure, and was consented to by the Cs and Ds, and not opposed by the MPS. Redacted information was provided to potential claimants which enabled them to litigate or enter a private arbitration scheme set up by D1.
Operation Pinetree was a new phase in the investigation, involving different facts to Operation Weeting, and a new order for a similar disclosure regime was proposed. The MPS was neutral, but D1 did not agree to it, arguing that there was no jurisdiction to make the order, and it should not be made in the circumstances.
The proposed disclosure mechanism fell into two parts. The first required the disclosure of three specific categories of documents, to be disclosed for lawyers acting for existing and potential Pinetree claimants. The second provided for disclosure of other material falling into specified categories.
The Cs relied on the court’s case management powers under CPR 3.1(2)(m), its power to order disclosure against a person not a party to the proceedings under CPR 31.17, and the Norwich Pharmacal jurisdiction. Norwich Pharmacal became the main focus of the application, and the J’s decision. The Ds argued that the MPS’s lack of involvement in the original wrongdoing prevented the Norwich Pharmacal jurisdiction from being exercised.