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'Significant' E-Mail From News International Exec Emerges During Phone-Hacking Court Case (Report)

News of the World
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Email described in British high court as being of "enormous significance to the scandal engulfing the News Corp. owned publishing arm.

LONDON -- An e-mail from a high-level News International of "enormous significance" referring to the phone-hacking scandal at the News Corp. publishing subsidiary has emerged.

The electronic missive, described in a report in The Guardian on Wednesday as being from a"well-known individual" from within News International has emerged in the U.K. high court, during a hearing to discuss the progress of civil claims against the publisher of the News of the World.

Mr. Justice Vos said that the e-mail was "sent by an executive whose identity you know" – but the name of the author, the precise content of the message, and who it was discussing remain confidential for legal reasons, The Guardian reports.

That did not stop lawyers representing hacking victims from asserting the importance of the communication.

David Sherborne, representing hacking victims in the high court on Wednesday, said that Vos should "understand the enormous significance of that email" which referred to a "well-known individual victim" and that the message contained "an instruction relating to an individual's phone."

According to reports the court also heard that the email was first uncovered in March by News International's lawyers Linklaters in response to a search request made by the Metropolitan police.

Its existence was only disclosed to lawyers acting for hacking victims on Tuesday.

Sherborne said that he was concerned that this email was not disclosed to victims earlier even though it was of "obvious significance".

The significance of the email was underlined when Vos demonstrated to Sherborne how Linklaters would have found it using a "good old-fashioned" manual search.

Vos reportedly motioned with his computer mouse and said the law firm would have gone up and down the inbox and outboxes on various accounts and when they came across the email would have stopped and said "gosh".

Vos added that Linklaters failed to tell phone-hacking claimants or the Leveson inquiry, he understood that the lawyers had "apologised and said in future they will do better".

Earlier the high court heard that the number of people suing News International over phone hacking by the News of the World is expected to double to 100.

News international opened a voluntary compensation scheme for phone-hacking victims last year aiming to deal with the growing number of claimants.