HIGH PROFILE POLITICIANS, celebrities and sports stars including actor Jude Law and footballer Ashley Cole were among those who received settlements from the publishers of the now defunct News of The World after their voicemails were hacked.
Former UK Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott and the mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne, Sara Payne, were also in receipt sums from News Group Newspapers (NGN), the publishers of NoTW, who admitted in some cases that emails as well as phones were hacked.
NGN said at the High Court yesterday that it had paid private investigator Glenn Mulcaire hundreds of thousands of pounds to carry out interceptions of phone calls and text messages and to obtain information by blagging.
News International (NI) apologised in court and said senior staff knew nothing about the wrongdoing, BBC News reports. The amount of compensation varied according to the number of times a phone was hacked and the extent of intrusion.
Financial details of 15 of the 37 payouts, totalling more than £640,000 (over €750,000), were made public yesterday with Law receiving €155,000 with his ex-wife Sadie Frost getting over €50,000. Lord Prescott received €48,000.
In a statement Law said the hacking had had a “profound” effect on his life, the Guardian reports. He said:
For several years leading up to 2006, I was suspicious about how information concerning my private life was coming out in the press. I changed my phones, I had my house swept for bugs but still the information kept being published. I started to become distrustful of people close to me.
Speaking to his local newspaper, the Hull Daily Mail, Lord Prescott said:
Today’s court decision at long last brings clarity, apology and compensation for the years of hacking into my telephone messages by Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers.
The amounts generally ran into the tens of thousands of pounds, plus legal costs, to settle claims against the Sunday tabloid and its sister newspaper, The Sun.
Others in receipt of settlements were former government ministers Chris Bryant and Tessa Jowell, rugby player Gavin Henson, Princess Diana’s former lover James Hewitt, singer Dannii Minogue, Guy Pelly, a friend of Prince William, and Tom Rowland, a journalist who wrote for the Sunday Times – a NI title.
In a handful of cases the company admitted hacking into emails, as well as telephone voice mails.
Christopher Shipman, whose father, Dr Harold Shipman, was a notorious serial killer thought to have murdered more than 200 of his patients, had emails containing sensitive legal and medical information intercepted by the News of the Word. He was awarded “substantial” undisclosed damages.
The Metropolitan Police in London are continuing to investigate allegations of phone hacking by the News of The World which has caused a raft of resignations at News International and the demise of two senior officers in the police force. The former Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulsen, who was a former editor of the News of The World, has also resigned over the affair.
Two statutory inquiries have been set up in the wake of the scandal. One, the Leveson inquiry, is currently examining ethics in the UK media.
- additional reporting from AP