London: A private investigator jailed for hacking phones for Rupert Murdoch's News of the World asked Britain's Supreme Court on Tuesday to back his bid to keep mum about who ordered him to conduct the illegal eavesdropping.
Glenn Mulcaire wants the top court to overturn a ruling that he cannot rely on privilege against self-incrimination in the phone hacking proceedings.
Mulcaire, who was briefly jailed in 2007 along with royal reporter Clive Goodman, is fighting to keep secret who told him to hack phones on behalf of the tabloid. Lower courts have ordered Mulcaire to say who asked him to intercept voice messages.
Murdoch shut down the News of the World in July after evidence emerged that it had regularly eavesdropped on the phones of politicians, celebrities and even crime victims.
Murdoch has so far paid out millions to settle lawsuits from 60 actors, athletes, politicians and other public figures whose voice mails were hacked. Dozens more lawsuits have been filed.
Mulcaire is named as co-defendant in many of the claims. He said he was going to the Supreme Court to protect his "legitimate legal interests" and not to protect Murdoch or his employees.
"Any suggestion I am bringing this appeal or defending the civil claims to protect the company I used to work for or anyone at that compamy would be completely wrong," Mulcaire said in a prepared statement.
The Supreme Court hearing is due to last two days. In a related case, two judges ruled today that a former News of the World editor who was once Prime Minister David Cameron's media strategist can continue a court battle to force Murdoch's News International to pay his legal fees.
Andy Coulson is fighting his former employer, News International, to make it pay any potential legal costs in an ongoing investigation into phone hacking at the now defunct tabloid.
The High Court ruled in December that News International was not obliged to pay Coulson's legal fees.
Coulson challenged the ruling, and today two appeals judges agreed he had an "arguable case" and should get a full hearing at the Court of Appeal. No date has been set.
Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World in 2007 after a reporter and a private investigator working for the paper were jailed for hacking into the phones of royal aides.
He was later hired by Cameron, but resigned in January amid claims he had sanctioned phone hacking. Coulson denies knowledge of hacking.
News International subsidiary News Group Newspapers stopped paying Coulson's legal costs in August 2011, a month after he was arrested and released on bail in the phone hacking case. He has not been charged.
Coulson, who has stayed out of the limelight since quitting Downing Street, is due to give evidence Thursday to Britain's media ethics inquiry, set up in the wake of the hacking scandal.
First Published: Tuesday, May 08, 2012, 23:29