Phone hacking: Jude Law, Lord Prescott and Sara Payne get payouts

Jude Law Law's phone was hacked repeatedly between 2003 and 2006

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Jude Law and Lord Prescott are among the latest people given payouts over phone hacking by the News of the World.

Actor Law received the highest payout of £130,000 ($200,000). The ex-deputy PM got £40,000, the High Court heard.

Sara Payne, mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah, and Shaun Russell, whose wife and daughter were murdered in 1996, were given undisclosed sums.

News International apologised in court but later said senior staff knew nothing about the wrongdoing.

As details emerged of 37 cases - of which 19 were newly-settled - lawyers said most people pursuing damages had now reached agreements out of court.

Law's phone was repeatedly hacked between 2003 and 2006. His ex-wife Sadie Frost - who received a £50,000 payout - said she had distrusted him because journalists always knew where she would be, the court heard.

Analysis

A packed court, standing room only, heard 18 statements read out by victims of phone-hacking. Each time the media company admitted its guilt, it offered "its sincerest apologies" and paid up in damages

Actress Sadie Frost, who got £50,000, said journalists always seemed to know where she was. She suspected her husband, actor Jude Law, was leaking information. This was a common theme, highlighting the distrust among friends and families that hacking created.

Another major concern was the breach of security the practice created. Joan Hammell, special adviser to John Prescott, was cleared to the highest security level because she was privy to "highly sensitive information", but was hacked anyway. Damages £40,000

The only hacking victim in court was Chris Bryant MP who stood calmly with his arms crossed as News International apologised.

These cases are the bulk of those outstanding, but 10 cases may still go to trial.

In a statement issued after the hearing, Law said: "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."

In total 16 articles were published containing Law's personal information. His personal assistant Ben Jackson was also awarded £40,000, while his public relations consultant Ciara Parkes got £35,000.

The News of the World had placed Mr Prescott under surveillance, the court heard.

The peer told the Hull Daily Mail the settlement "brought clarity, apology and compensation" and followed years of "aggressive denials and a cavalier approach to private information and the law".

Other payouts included an undisclosed sum to footballer Ashley Cole, £40,000 to Welsh rugby union star Gavin Henson (the former partner of singer Charlotte Church) and the same sum to entrepreneur and friend of Princes William and Harry, Guy Pelly.

Mr Pelly said in a statement read in court he had phoned his voicemail to find it engaged.

The judge heard statements on behalf of 18 of the 37. It is expected more will follow at a later date.

No statement was read for Ms Payne, from Surrey, who became a child protection campaigner after her daughter's murder in West Sussex in 2000. Likewise for Mr Russell, from Gwynedd, whose wife Lyn and daughter Megan were attacked with a hammer in a Kent country lane.

'Utmost distress'

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said some commentators were viewing the latest settlements as News International "waving the white flag".

There did not seem to be a huge appetite on News International's part to put journalists and editors in the witness box, he said.

The company issued what it called a "clarification" about the settlements later on Thursday on behalf of its subsidiary News Group Newspapers (NGN).

It said: "NGN made no admission as part of these settlements that directors or senior employees knew about the wrongdoing by NGN or sought to conceal it.

Victims' lawyer Tamsin Allen: They now know who accessed their voicemail messages

"However, for the purpose of reaching these settlements only, NGN agreed that the damages to be paid to claimants should be assessed as if this was the case."

Clive Coleman said payouts varied according to the number of times a phone had been hacked and over what period, the extent of intrusion and number of articles published.

"The Metropolitan Police have said there were around 800 victims of phone hacking. Potentially each of those victims has a claim to bring," he added.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, who was awarded £30,000, said in a court statement it was "a matter of utmost distress" to discover he was a victim.

Joan Hammell, chief of staff to Lord Prescott, was awarded £40,000. She was party to highly sensitive information and cleared to the highest security vetting level within government, the court heard.

Christopher Shipman, son of serial killer Dr Harold Shipman, was awarded an undisclosed fee after his e-mails and phone were hacked.

Other payouts confirmed at Thursday's hearing included:

  • £30,000 to Lisa Gower, who was in a relationship with comedian Steve Coogan
  • £25,000 to Ashley Cole's solicitor, Graham Shear
  • £25,000 to freelance crime reporter Tom Rowland
  • £32,500 to Labour MP Denis McShane
  • Undisclosed damages to former Labour MP Claire Ward
  • £27,500 to journalist and author Joan Smith
  • £60,000 to an anonymous claimant

Other cases among the 37 concerned TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson, former FA chief David Davies, ex-cavalry officer James Hewitt, who had an affair with Diana, Princess of Wales, ex-MP George Galloway, former cabinet minister Tessa Jowell, singer Dannii Minogue and her brother Brendan.

Settlement figures were not mentioned, nor in the cases of Paul Dadge, who helped survivors of the 7/7 London bombings, ex-Lib Dem MP Mark Oaten, celebrity Abi Titmuss, Calum Best, son of George Best, and Meg Matthews, ex-wife of former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher.

The remaining settlements involve figures named as Michelle Milburn, Colette Bos, police officer Dan Lichters, Cornelia Crisan, and Lance Gerrard-Wright, former husband of Ulrika Jonsson.

'Extremely brave'

Mark Thomson, of Atkins Thomson, told Thursday's hearing other claimants had not settled and would press ahead with a trial scheduled for next month.

The case involving Charlotte Church is among 10 as yet unsettled which are to be tried on 13 February in a hearing designed to provide a framework for the level of compensation due in any future cases.

Lord Prescott Lord Prescott had been placed under surveillance by the News of the World

"All of the claimants have been extremely brave to take on and succeed against a massive and influential multinational media organisation," said Mr Thomson.

Private detective Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed in 2007 for illegally accessing voicemails while contracted to the News of the World, was a second defendant in each of the cases.

However, the court heard he was not involved in any of the settlements, nor party to any of the statements, because he has been arrested as part of the Metropolitan Police's phone-hacking investigation.

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