8 Feb 2012

Settlements reached in more phone hacking cases

A number of well known figures, including the entertainer Steve Coogan , have received settlements in their legal action against intrusion into their privagte lives.

Steve Coogan (Reuters)

News Group Newspapers, which published the News of the World, has paid out tens of thousands of pounds in damages claims to a number of celebrities and politicians affected by phone hacking. Steve Coogan, who received £40,000, said it had “never been about money”, and complained that the Government and police had been unwilling to hold those responsible to account. “For a long time it was left to victims of these egregious practices to fight for the truth”, he said.

The Liberal Democrat politician Simon Hughes, who received £45,000 said the evidence in his case showed how widespread the practice of phone hacking had been. “It was criminal behaviour on an industrial scale”, he said.

The court also heard that the former footballer Paul Gasgoine had suffered “mental harm and distress” after his phone messages were hacked, and he’d been accused of being paranoid when he suspected that he was being targetted. He accepted a £68,000 payout, including costs.

Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alistair Campbell, who also received damages, wrote on his blog that it had been a ‘satisfactory’ outcome. He said that as part of his agreement, the News of the World publisher had agreed to continue searching other documents in their possession. He explained that he could then “ascertain the extent of any further wrongdoing both for the time I worked in Downing Street and since, and they have agreed I may be entitled to further damages in certain circumstances.”

Five more cases are due to be heard next week for technical reasons, while one involving the singer Charlotte Church and her parents remains unresolved and is due to go to a full trial on Monday.

The hearing was told that some fifty other cases are still outstanding, arising from actions launched by a raft of other public figures, including the singer James Blunt, the footballer Peter Crouch and his wife, the model and television star Abby Clancey.