Charlotte Church settles with News of the World over phone hacking
CHARLOTTE Church, the singer, has settled her damages claim against the News of the World for phone hacking, her solicitor said today.
Details of her compensation are expected to be made public when she attends a High Court hearing on Monday, where News Group Newspapers, publisher of the defunct tabloid, will apologise for intercepting her voicemails.
Together with her parents, who will also be paid damages after their own phones were hacked, Miss Church’s total compensation, including legal fees, is expected to be between £380,000 (€448,500) and £500,000.
Miss Church, 26, her mother, Maria, and her adoptive father, James, had complained that the News of the World published distressing stories about them that had originated from voicemail messages hacked by Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective jailed for phone hacking in 2007.
Their case against NGN had been due for a trial at the High Court on Monday, but Mike Brookes, who represents the family, said today that “we have agreed terms” with NGN.
Five other outstanding cases against NGN from alleged victims of hacking, including the footballer Ryan Giggs, will also be discussed when their lawyers attend a case management hearing before High Court judge Mr Justice Vos.
They are the only outstanding cases lodged with the High Court before a cut-off date in October last year for the first batch of claims against NGN to be dealt with by the court.
More than 50 other cases have been settled over the past two months.
Speaking during an application by the Guardian newspaper for the release of court documents relating to phone hacking, Mr Justice Vos said: “I’m extremely keen that the momentum of this litigation should not be lost by the fact that the cases that were set for trial are settled.
“These cases should be determined quickly.”
He told lawyers for the five other outstanding claimants that he expects an update on the cases next week, and also wants to be told about other cases that are in the pipeline, which are likely to include that of Cherie Blair, who issued a writ against NGN this week demanding damages for phone hacking.
Michael Silverleaf QC, representing NGN, said he and the barristers representing the victims had been discussing a system of fast-tracking future claims without the need for individual claims to be lodged separately.
“I’m confident we will be able to come up with a much more efficient process for dealing with the residual cases,” he said.
More than 800 likely victims of phone hacking have been identified by the Metropolitan Police after it launched Operation Weeting, a fresh investigation into phone hacking, last year.
Some, if not all, of the remaining five cases are expected to go to trial. As well as Giggs, they involve Paul Burrell, the former butler to Diana, Princess of Wales, Mary Ellen Field, a former assistant of the model Elle Macpherson, Nicola Phillips, a former assistant of the publicist Max Clifford, and the former Crimewatch co-presenter Jackie Haynes and her husband Dave Cook.
Unlike the cases which have been settled over the past two months, which were all brought against News Group Newspapers and Glenn Mulcaire, several of the remaining litigants are suing individuals at the News of the World, making their cases more complicated.
Miss Philips is to ask the Supreme Court to order Mulcaire to answer a series of questions, including whether the News of the World's news editor, Ian Edmondson, asked him to investigate her. Mr Mulcaire has so far refused to answer the questions.