UK

Phone hacking: Fresh News of the World claims to be heard

News of the World sign Image copyright AP

Fresh claims of phone hacking by the now defunct News of the World newspaper can be heard in court, a High Court judge has ruled.

The allegations relate to the tabloid's former features team and cover a wider period of time than in previous cases.

Hacking claims against the features team were previously restricted to between January 2005 and August 2006.

The ruling, by Mr Justice Mann, could open the way for 60 new claims against publishers News Group Newspapers (NGN).

The claimants include a number of soap stars and other celebrities.

Claims against the features team have until now been restricted to the period between January 2005 and August 2006, which is when journalist and convicted phone hacker Dan Evans has admitted hacking phones for the paper.

The High Court judge - Mr Justice Mann - is also due to rule next month on related claims of hacking involving the Sun newspaper.

NGN - publishers of the former News of the World and the Sun - has already paid out millions of pounds to around 600 phone-hacking victims and apologised for hacking at the News of the World between 1999 and 2006.

It has always denied there was any phone hacking at the Sun.

Analysis

By legal affairs correspondent, Clive Coleman

Just when it was thought that the phone-hacking scandal was coming to a close today's ruling - and another one expected in three weeks' time - has opened a "new front".

In the related claims, a new group of phone-hacking victims are claiming that journalists at the Sun newspaper hacked voicemail messages for stories.

It is the first time that claims for hacking have been made against the Sun - the sister paper for the News of the World, which was closed in 2011 as the phone hacking scandal took off.

At least five claimants say that stories appeared in the Sun as a direct result of illegal voice mail interception.

The number of claims could increase to 16 pending a court ruling on whether claims against the Sun are allowed to proceed.

News Group Newspapers has always denied hacking at the Sun.

At a court hearing on 13 January, it was revealed that former chief executive of the British Olympic Association, Simon Clegg, claimed stories appeared in the News of the World and the Sun as a direct result of voicemail interception.

Court documents seen by the BBC show Mr Clegg has so far identified 11 stories that appeared from 2002 onwards.

At the time, the BOA was lobbying the government to make a bid for the 2012 London Olympics.

Lawyers for NGN are attempting to have Mr Clegg's claim against the Sun struck out.

Mr Clegg was first notified by London's Metropolitan Police that he was a victim of phone hacking in 2014.

However, two years' earlier, Mr Clegg had approached the Met himself because he suspected that his mobile phone voicemails had been hacked.

Lawyers for the Sun say stories about Mr Clegg - along with details about the campaign to launch a formal bid to host the Olympics - were gathered through legitimate means and not as a result of phone hacking.

Mr Justice Mann - the judge in charge of the civil phone-hacking claims - is expected to rule on whether claims against the Sun can go ahead next month.

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