Rebekah Brooks, News International’s former chief executive, Andy Coulson, former No. 10 spin doctor (Downing Street communications chief), and others have lost an appeal which attempted to redefine what is meant by the ordinary words which define the unlawful interception of communications.
They, or rather their lawyers, tried to persuade the Appeal Court that the legal and technical definitions concerning the transmission of telecommunications did not cover voicemails.
The gist of their argument seems to be that it is quite legal to read someone else's private messages provided that those messages were already available to the intended recipient.
According to their submission to the court they could lawfully do the electronic equivalent of steaming open anybody's letters and reading them, provided only that they did so after delivery to the intended recipients mailbox. There is a wonderful, handy-sized legal term for such an idea: daft.
We are fortunate indeed in having a majority of judges who are able to think in a logical manner.
"The common law is tolerant of much illogicality, especially on the surface; but no system of law can be workable if it has not got logic at the root of it."
Lord Devlin, Hedley Byrne v Heller and Partners  AC 465 at 516
The appeal was dismissed: the criminal trial must now proceed.
The appellants had all previously pleaded 'not guilty' to charges of “conspiring to intercept communications in the course of their transmission without lawful authority.”
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Comments are welcome, preferably concerning law and logic. But please remember that the criminal trial is sub judice: comments prejudicial to a fair trial will be unpublished.