- EX-INVESTIGATOR Glenn Mulcaire says ‘flawed’ legal advice led to second hacking sentence
- BELIEVES HE is the only person in British legal history convicted of same crime twice
- NOW SUING law firm Slater & Gordon for their ‘betrayal’
- HOPES ACTION will pave way for quashing his second conviction
By Chris Allen & Graham Johnson
PHONE HACKER Glenn Mulcaire is suing a law firm for its ‘fatally flawed’ advice which he says led to his second conviction for intercepting voicemails.
The ex-investigator was jailed for hacking in 2007 alongside News of the World (NotW) royal editor Clive Goodman.
Seven years later he was back in the dock amid a second probe into illegal information gathering at Murdoch’s scandal-hit News International.
He admitted a string of offences and was given a suspended prison sentence in 2014.
But Mulcaire says he only pleaded guilty because lawyers advised they would ask the court to stay his prosecution by claiming ‘abuse of process’, arguing the new charges should have been brought back in 2006.
He believes his second prosecution makes him the only ‘autrefois convict’ – a person convicted twice for the same offence – in British legal history.
His allegations are detailed in a letter before claim for professional negligence, due to be served imminently on law firm Slater & Gordon.
It describes how the abuse of process option was taken off the table following his courtroom admission in March 2013.
Said Mulcaire, who has since retrained as an NHS first responder: ‘I was jailed for my crime in its entirety in 2007, and seven years later – after rebuilding my life – I was dragged back to court and convicted again.
‘My lawyers told me I could plead guilty and claim abuse of process at the same time. That was fatally flawed advice and I was utterly betrayed. I know now that you either do one or the other, not both.’
Mulcaire had a £100k-a-year golden handcuffs deal to hack exclusively for Murdoch’s now defunct NotW.
The AFC Wimbledon striker-turned private detective was contracted by the paper for six years before his downfall for hacking the phones of Royal aides.
The MET seized over 11,000 documents – plus laptops and handwritten notes – in armed raids on his family home and his office on an industrial estate in Sutton, Surrey in 2006.
Also arrested was Mulcaire’s personal assistant, Steven Mills, who was later released without charge after a grilling by detectives.
Alongside the NotW’s Goodman, Mulcaire admitted conspiracy to intercept communications relating to three Royal aides and was jailed for six months.
He also pleaded guilty to hacking the phones of Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes, supermodel Elle Macpherson and disgraced publicist, the late Max Clifford.
Mulcaire, who served his sentence in the notorious Belmarsh prison, explained: ‘At the time of my first arrest I was considered a national security threat as, under instruction from the News of the World, I’d hacked phones belonging to the young princes William and Harry.
‘All the evidence was available to the police, and they would have gone through it with a fine toothcomb – borne out by the fact that my crime was downgraded to a privacy issue.
‘There was nothing the police didn’t know. Everything could and should have been dealt with in that first case.’
Satisfied that he had owned up to and been punished for his crime, Mulcaire set about rebuilding his life, going on to work as a senior investigator with former MET commissioner Lord Stevens’ unit Quest.
Meanwhile his conviction threw phone hacking at News International under the spotlight and an investigation by the Guardian uncovered more widespread malpractice.
The MET announced a second hacking probe – Operation Weeting – in 2011 after News International handed the force emails implicating news editor Ian Edmondson.
To his disbelief, Mulcaire was arrested in a dawn raid by Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorism squad and accused of conspiracy to intercept messages.
He again instructed law firm Russell, Jones and Walker (RJW) which had represented him in his first conviction.
Months later – in 2012 – the firm was bought out by Australian legal giant Slater & Gordon in a deal worth a reported £54m.
Mulcaire and a number of News International employees – including Edmondson, former NotW editor Andy Coulson and news editor Neville Thurlbeck – were charged with conspiracy.
Mulcaire pleaded guilty to all but one charge.
He stood firm in his denial of conspiring to hack Milly Dowler’s phone, arguing he had been tasked by a police informant and believed his work had the blessing of authorities.
‘I was fully prepared to lay all this out in court,’ he says. ‘But that didn’t fit the police narrative, and they didn’t want me cross-examining or calling witnesses who they knew would embarrass them.
‘Instead they moved the goalposts by abandoning the conspiracy element – and I was left with no choice but to plead guilty to the act of hacking Milly Dowler’s phone.’
Mulcaire was sentenced in July 2014 to six months’ jail, suspended for a year.
A raft of NotW high-flyers – including Coulson, former press adviser to David Cameron – got prison sentences ranging from six to 18 months.
‘Ironically, only my name is ever linked to hacking Milly Dowler’s phone,’ says Mulcaire.
‘But Coulson, Neville Thurlbeck and Greg Miskiw either admitted conspiring to hack her phone, or were found guilty.’
In his letter before claim, Mulcaire’s lawyer – Tim Lowles of Level Law – says his client was told by RJW that an abuse of process application stood a good chance of success.
RJW advised that charges levelled against Mulcaire in the second prosecution were ‘based on bad faith’, given they arose from evidence seized in 2006 and should have been brought then.
‘Our client understood…that he could plead guilty to the majority of charges and still be able to make the Abuse Application that would hopefully result in a stay of his prosecution,’ writes Lowles.
Mulcaire pleaded guilty in March 2013, but was told by RJW two months later it was now “too late” to claim abuse of process, and that he would have to use the same argument in mitigation.
The mitigation was apparently recognised by judge Mr Justice Saunders, who described Mulcaire as ‘the lucky one’ in passing sentence.
‘If a full investigation had been carried out in 2007 then all those matters could have been dealt with at the same time. It is not your fault that they were not,’ said the judge.
A year later, Coulson was back before the courts in Scotland accused of perjury – but was cleared when the trial collapsed.
Tellingly, the Crown Prosecution Service granted Mulcaire effective immunity from further action should he incriminate himself giving evidence in the case.
Mulcaire – a father of five – says his second prosecution has cost him dearly.
‘It was legally and morally wrong,’ he says, adding that he hopes success in his negligence claim will pave the way for quashing his conviction.
‘I certainly don’t feel like the lucky one. My family and I lost our home, and since moving I’ve been unable to get work as a first responder – despite still being qualified.
‘Employers read my record and it makes me look like arch criminal number one. I’m still in prison now – I call it the glass wall prison.
‘For the time being, I’m back investigating my own case. Until I close this, I can’t move on, my family can’t move on.’