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Phone Hacking

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Phone Hacking

Specialist in high profile media cases

Edwards Duthie Shamash are representing Alan Yentob and Paul Gascoigne in the phone hacking trial which began on 2 March 2015.

The case of Various Claimants (Phone Hacking) v MGN Limited is being heard before Mr Justice Mann HJ in Court 15 of the Rolls Building, who is tasked with deciding the phone hacking claims brought against Mirror Group Newspapers by Alan Yentob, Paul Gascoigne, Sadie Frost, Lauren Alcorn, Robert Ashworth, Lucy Taggart, Shobna Gulati and Shane Roche.

What is the law of hacking?

The act of intercepting someone’s telephone calls may attract both criminal and civil penalties.

Criminal Penalties

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (‘RIPA’) is the main criminal statute dealing with phone hacking. Section 1 of RIPA makes the unauthorised interception of communications a criminal offence. The offence covers fixed and mobile telephone lines, emails, texts and paper messages.

An offence under section 1 of RIPA is committed by a person who intentionally and without lawful authority ‘intercepts’ any communication ‘in the course of transmission’ by means of a public or private telecommunications system.

How does section 1 of RIPA apply to the phone hacking of your voicemail messages?

A person ‘intercepts’ a communication by making some or all of the content of a communication (in this case voicemail or text messages left on your phone or an emails left on your computer) available to a third party. In other words, making them available to someone other than the sender or the intended recipient.

The police have taken the view that section 1 of RIPA does not apply to voicemail messages that have already been listened to by the intended recipient. Therefore, it is only a criminal offence to access someone else’s voicemail messages if they have not been listened to.

Various forms of hacking may also be an offence under s. 48 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act, s. 1 of the Computer Misuse Act and s. 55 of the Data Protection Act.

Civil Liability for hacking

Possible civil remedies for hacking include actions for breach of confidence, breach of Article 8 rights under the Human Rights Act (the right to a private and family life), misuse of private information, breach of data protection and copyright violation. These are civil remedies are complex and require the advice of an experience media law practitioner.

Our media law team has acted for a number of high profile clients who have been hacked. There are a number of means by which we can help to obtain evidence of phone hacking. In particular, for those who were of interest to the tabloid media, details of hacking may have come to light as a result of the Metropolitan Police investigations known as Operation Weeting, Operation Pinetree and Operation Golding.

Information can also be sought from mobile phone providers. Those targeted may recall repeatedly receiving calls where the caller hangs up or calling their voicemail where the automated reply tells them that voicemail messages they have not listened to are described as being old messages. Other signs may be that the client receives notification of the security PIN being re-set or receiving a text message from mobile phone providers informing them that someone has attempted to do this.

What can Edwards Duthie Shamash do to protect your privacy?

There are now numerous ways to provide for effective protection of an individual’s privacy and dignity against the excessive intrusions by the media. These may include pre-publication injunctions and court actions but also effective and robust communication with the media to prevent unwarranted invasions of privacy.

Where you fear that the media may be threatening to disclose private and intrusive material, it is essential to take advice quickly. We have very considerable experience of all types of privacy, data protection and confidence claims.

Phone Hacking News

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Gerald Shamash – Edwards Duthie Shamash

Gerald is a veteran practitioner in media disputes in the High Court, and has represented many politicians, celebrities, business leaders and other high profile clients.

Please do contact our Media law team in the strictest confidence.

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