Murdoch firm settles 15 hacking lawsuits


A FURTHER 15 politicians, sportsmen and celebrities reached settlements with the British newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp yesterday over a phone hacking scandal that has rocked his global media empire.

The development increases the chances that the publisher may yet avoid further embarrassing details of its conduct from being publicly aired in court – although at least one of the claimants, Welsh singer Charlotte Church, has not yet reached a deal.

A civil trial to establish general principles of how hacking victims should be compensated is due to start next week, provided that the remaining claimants do not settle. Among those who settled on Wednesday were comedian Steve Coogan, MP Simon Hughes and ex-soccer player Paul Gascoigne.

The High Court in London heard that Coogan had settled his claim for £40,000. Hughes receives £45,000, football agent Sky Andrew receives £75,000, and Gascoigne receives £68,000.

Sally King, a friend of former home secretary David Blunkett, receives £60,000, her husband Andrew receives £50,000 and her father and brother receive substantial undisclosed damages.

The court heard that 15 new settlements had been reached, including nine of the 10 that were due to be heard at next week’s trial.

These claimants were thought to include Church and her parents; singer Pete Doherty; Mr Hughes; Tracey Temple, who had a relationship with former deputy Labour prime minister Lord Prescott; jockey Kieren Fallon and racing trainer Samantha Wallin.

– (Reuters/PA)