Hacking scandal wipes £17m off Trinity Mirror

Wed, Oct 24, 2012, 01:00

ABOUT £17 million (€21 million) was wiped off the value of Trinity Mirror after a phone hacking scandal spread to the owner of British tabloid the Daily Mirror.

On Monday the lawyer who handled many of those phone-hacking cases filed legal claims against Trinity Mirror on behalf of four people, including the former England soccer manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

British journalism was rocked by the revelation of hacking by journalists at Rupert Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World into voicemails of celebrities, politicians and even crime victims.

Trinity Mirror said it had yet to receive any claims and repeated assurances that its journalists worked within the law. “We have not yet received any claims nor have we been provided with any substantiation for those claims.”

Shares in the group were down 9.4 per cent by yesterday afternoon as investors digested the threat of increasing legal costs and damage to the reputation of a group that is already grappling with falling advertising and circulation revenues.

News International has settled dozens of civil cases, paying tens of millions of pounds, and its journalists are still facing criminal charges over allegations that staff hacked into voicemail messages to generate salacious stories.

Billions of dollars were wiped off the value of News Corp at the height of the scandal last year and executives were forced to depart.

Analyst Johnathan Barrett said the legal claims would weigh on Trinity Mirror’s share price because although the number of claims was small compared with News International, they could rise over time.

The legal action will provide a stiff test to former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, now a talk show host in the US.

The claims allege phone hacking took place at the Daily Mirror when Morgan, who previously edited Murdoch’s News of the World, was editor. He has denied authorising hacking during his time as editor of the Mirror, most recently at the Leveson inquiry, which was set up to investigate the conduct of the press.

The other three claimants are Abbie Gibson, a former nanny for the Beckham family, soccer player Garry Flitcroft and actress Shobna Gulati. – (Reuters)