Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Murdoch's Media Empire Settles Hacking Complaints ; Bill for Murdoch's Group May Be in Millions, with Many Yet to File Claims

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Murdoch's Media Empire Settles Hacking Complaints ; Bill for Murdoch's Group May Be in Millions, with Many Yet to File Claims

Article excerpt

The actor Jude Law was named Thursday in a list of 37 high- profile victims of alleged hacking who have settled with Rupert Murdoch's group.

Rupert Murdoch's media empire has agreed to pay substantial damages to several dozen high-profile victims of phone and e-mail hacking at The News of the World, it emerged in High Court here on Thursday. At the same time, lawyers for the victims said that senior managers not only knew about the hacking, but also lied about it, destroyed evidence and tried to cover it up.

Thursday's court hearing was a humiliating occasion for Mr. Murdoch's News Group Newspapers, which published the now-defunct News of the World. In a courtroom so jammed with lawyers, victims and members of the news media that some people had to sit on the floor, News Group's lawyer, Michael Silverleaf, spent most of the hearing repeatedly expressing the company's "sincere apologies" for "the damage, as well as the distress" caused to victim after victim.

The list of 37 victims settling with the company included politicians, celebrities, actors and sports figures, as well as people in their inner circles -- employees, spouses, lovers. It is unclear how much News Group will end up having to pay after all the cases are finally settled -- the police say there may be as many as 800 victims -- but the total bill for the 18 victims whose settlement details were disclosed on Thursday reaches well above a million dollars.

Perhaps two dozen cases are currently pending. News Group says it is eager to settle all the cases, but lawyers for the victims say it is unclear whether some might go to trial.

The settlements disclosed on Thursday include those of the actor Jude Law, who received Pounds 130,000, or $200,000 in damages; Sadie Frost, his ex-wife, who received Pounds 50,000; Ben Jackson, his assistant, who received Pounds 40,000; Dennis MacShane, a member of Parliament, who received Pounds 32,500; and Gavin Henson, a Welsh rugby star, who received Pounds 40,000. In each case, News Group also agreed to pay the complainant's legal costs, which can easily run into six figures for a single case.

One claimant, for instance, who spoke on condition that his name not be used, said that the costs in his case came to about Pounds 200,000, excluding News International's own legal fees.

But perhaps more damaging to the company than the financial penalties was a statement read outside the courtroom by lawyers representing the hacking victims.

"News Group has agreed to compensation being assessed on the basis that senior employees and directors of N.G.N. knew about the wrongdoing and sought to conceal it by deliberately deceiving investigators and destroying evidence," the statement said, referring to News Group.

A spokeswoman for News International, the British newspaper arm of Mr. …

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