13 May 2011

‘Second newspaper being sued over phone hacking claims’

As the News of the World settles with actor Sienna Miller, a second newspaper now faces phone hacking proceedings, Channel 4 News understands.

James Hewitt - Reuters

James Hewitt, the ex-lover of Princess Diana, and actress Koo Stark started legal action against the paper this week, their publicist Max Clifford told Channel 4 News.

Mr Clifford did not disclose which newspaper was the subject of the claims, but said that Mr Hewitt – who is also to begin proceedings against the News of the World next week – believes his voicemail messages were hacked during the time that he was having an affair with Diana in the mid-1990s.

The publicist did not say when Ms Stark, the ex-flame of Prince Andrew, alleges her phone was hacked.

In January, former Labour MP Paul Marsden confirmed that his solicitors were examining evidence that his phone may have been hacked by a Daily Mirror journalist in 2003. His solicitor, Mark Lewis, told Channel 4 News that his client has not started proceedings.

Sienna Miller - Reuters

The news comes as Sienna Miller’s claim in the News of the World phone-hacking action is on the verge of being settled.

On Thursday, News Group’s QC Michael Silverleaf told Mr Justice Vos at London’s High Court that it admitted liability unconditionally for all the wrongs alleged by the actress and accepted responsibility for compensating her.

And on Friday, after out-of-court discussions, Ms Miller’s counsel, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said she would apply to enter judgment on the basis of those admissions for £100,000 damages – which was the sum offered by News Group last month – and other relief.

Mr Tomlinson said the proposed settlement, which has yet to be finalised, would include the provision of information and disclosure by the News of the World “concerning the extent of the wrongdoing”, subject to a proviso of reasonable practicality.

Ms Miller would also have liberty to apply to the courts if more relevant wrongdoing was disclosed and would seek the making of a statement in open court in agreed terms or unilaterally.

Counsel said: “I make the position clear that Ms Miller is proceeding in this way precisely because Mr Silverleaf indicated yesterday all her claims have been admitted – misuse of private information, breach of confidence, publication of articles derived from voice-mail hacking and a course of conduct of harassment over a period of more than 12 months.

“In those circumstances, her primary concern is not how much money is awarded by way of compensation but to know exactly what the extent was of the hacking which took place and, having obtained an order which will enable her to know that – so far as it is knowable – that meets all her requirements from this action.”

The settlement is likely to be formalised by the court next Friday, when there is another case management conference in the litigation, if not before.