Daily Mirror reporters have reportedly hired private investigators to target high court judges with illegal methods of gathering information, according to allegations made in the latest round of litigation.
Lawyers representing a group of alleged hacking victims said the Mirror's publisher "pursued everyone to fit his agenda in the most formidable way, including senior members of the judiciary".
Lawyers did not name the judges allegedly targeted using illegal methods, but said they tend to be those who "gave orders of anonymity in confidential proceedings".
They also claimed that the judges' targeting continued until mid-2011, when the collapse of "News of the World" created crisis in the British press and led to Leveson's research.
The allegations were made in the latest round of lengthy lawsuits against Mirror Group Newspapers for alleged phone hacking. The company has already been forced to make significant payments to a large number of celebrities.
David Sherborne, representing a number of plaintiffs, including actors John Leslie and Martine McCutcheon, said the Mirror had been forced to release anonymous invoices which had been discovered by private investigators. He said this included references to judges being targeted in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
Sherborne also asked the court for permission to amend the case against the Mirror, arguing that ITV Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan "was well aware of the widespread use of illegal activities for information gathering ", while Piers Morgan was the publisher of the Daily Mirror in the early 2000s.
In court, the plaintiffs stated that they wanted to cite “many cases where Mr Morgan publicly admitted fact that he was well aware of the practice of monitoring voice messages at that time and how widespread its use was ”.
Richard Spearman QC, representing the Mirror, complained about Morgan's attempt to sue, saying: "Mr Morgan's alleged knowledge of the widespread use of illegal intelligence gathering activities is irrelevant" whether the board or the its legal department company knew about alleged phone hacking.
The trial is set to begin in January, with similar cases against the Sun and News of the World publishers.