Stars of screen, stage and sport are preparing court action against the Metropolitan Police in a co-ordinated campaign to force the disclosure of more evidence that they believe implicates News of the World executives in a phone-hacking scandal.
News International, the owner of the News of the World, could end up paying millions of pounds in compensation if the police files prove that the scale of the illegal operation went beyond the actions of "one rogue reporter".
This week the sports agent Sky Andrew will be handed evidence originally retrieved from police raids on the office and home of the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in 2006. The breakthrough in Andrew's case came after his lawyers went to court to force the Met to comply with repeated requests for disclosure of the information.
Solicitor Charlotte Harris, the head of media at law firm JMW, said she had 15 more clients, including a famous actress, who each had "live inquiries" with the Met which were likely to end up before the courts.
She told the Independent: "Scores of individuals, many of whom are high profile, will be making applications to the court over the next few months.
Those who have been informed by the Metropolitan Police that they are mentioned by name or telephone number in Glenn Mulcaire's papers will want to know precisely what those papers say, and who commissioned the information."
The police investigation and civil court action threatens to embroil the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who resigned four years ago over the scandal only to become David Cameron's chief media adviser.
Last week it emerged that a senior News of the World executive, Ian Edmondson, had been suspended over allegations of professional misconduct believed to be linked to the hacking.
In 2007 Clive Goodman, the royal editor of the News of the World, was jailed for four months for plotting to intercept voicemail messages left for royal aides to Prince William and Prince Harry. Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months after pleading guilty to the same charge.
Harris said: "In the princes' criminal trial Glenn Mulcaire admitted that he had worked for others at News of the World. These papers may reveal who these others at News of the World actually were. Why did the police not interview them at the time? Why are the police not simply providing these papers and notifying victims so they can take action without jumping through all these hoops?"
- INDEPENDENTBy Robert Verkaik