Sunday Times journalist Brendan Montague and three others have won their latest bid to mount a legal challenge over the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the News of the World phone-hacking case.
Montague and Labour MP Chris Bryant, former Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick and former deputy prime minister John Prescott had asked a High Court judge to give them the go-ahead for a judicial review.
Mr Justice Foskett, sitting in London, gave a ruling today which allows their cases to go to a full hearing.
The four, who believe they were victims of phone-hacking, claim there were human rights breaches in the police handling of their cases.
The judge said that on the basis of the evidence and arguments put before him at a hearing on 12 May, he had concluded that Lord Prescott, Bryant and Paddick each “has an arguable case for seeking the relief claimed by way of judicial review”.
On the evidence as it stood he said he was not “truly persuaded” that Montague had such an arguable claim – but was allowing it to proceed with the other cases.
Mr Justice Foskett announced: “Unless the claims are resolved by agreement in the meantime, the judge hearing the substantive application will decide whether, on the more detailed evidence and arguments available then, the claims are well-founded.”
At the 12 May hearing, Hugh Tomlinson QC, acting on behalf of all four menld the judge that their cases concerned the “lawfulness” of the way the police dealt with the phone-hacking case in 2006 “when police officers became aware of what was going on”.
Contesting the applications, James Lewis QC, for the commissioner, had argued that “these matters are effectively academic”, adding that there was now a “comprehensive” investigation being carried out.
Giving his decision today, Mr Justice Foskett said: “In putting forward his evidence in response to the individual claims the defendant will be aware of the duty of candour expected of every public authority in this kind of case. Each of the claimants will also be under a duty to review the merits of his case when that evidence has been deployed …”