Thursday 27 July 2017

Video: Paper pays £600,000 to singer Church and family

Charlotte Church has settled her action against News International for more than half a million pounds (AP)
Charlotte Church has settled her action against News International for more than half a million pounds (AP)
Singer Charlotte Church gives a statement to the media outside the High Court in London

Jan Colley and Cathy Gordon in London

Charlotte Church and her parents settled their phone-hacking claims for £600,000 (€710,000) yesterday with up to 200 fresh claims on the horizon.

As the singer told reporters of her disgust at the behaviour of 'News of the World' publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN), Mr Justice Vos was setting a timetable for the High Court to deal with the next wave of the litigation by this time next year.

Miss Church (26) sat in the packed London courtroom as her lawyer told the judge that the now-defunct newspaper targeted her and her voicemail messages repeatedly, and unlawfully obtained her private medical information and details of her personal relationships with her family and friends.

Solicitor Mike Brookes said it began in 2002 when Charlotte was just 16 and continued for many years.

"Charlotte was also regularly harassed and even placed under surveillance by the 'News of the World' and those paid by them.

"They followed the every move of a teenage girl."

He said that James and Maria Church were not in the public eye, but their own privacy had been violated on a number of occasions.

"The motivation for this intrusion into the lives of two essentially private and ordinary individuals was to make money."

He said that Mrs Church was a vulnerable person, with a complex medical history which the newspaper found out about, publishing private details of her hospital treatment.

"At her lowest moment, the 'News of the World' issued her with an ultimatum and coerced her into giving them an in-depth interview about her self-harming and attempted suicide.

"She felt she had no choice but to give the interview and was deeply traumatised by the publication of the story in the 'News of the World'."

Mr Brookes said that the newspaper had apologised and agreed to pay the family £600,000 in damages and legal costs.

Michael Silverleaf, for NGN, said: "I am here today to offer my client's sincere apologies to the Church family for the way they have been treated.

"NGN acknowledges that they should never have had to endure what they have suffered and that NGN are liable for the damage that they have caused."

Outside court, Charlotte Church said: "What I have discovered as the litigation has gone on has sickened and disgusted me."

Resolved

The settlement of Miss Church's case means that 55 of the original 60 claims launched before October last year have been resolved.

The remaining five are those of footballer Ryan Giggs, former royal butler Paul Burrell, police officer and 'Crimewatch' presenter Jacqui Hames -- and her husband David Cook -- public relations consultant Nicola Phillips and Elle Macpherson's former adviser, Mary Ellen Field, whose case will be tried in July.

Earlier this month, the court was told that a second wave of 56 new claims was in the pipeline - including those of singer James Blunt, footballer Peter Crouch and his wife Abigail Clancy, politician Nigel Farage, footballer Kieron Dyer and ex-wife of golfer Colin Montgomerie, Eimear Cook.

NGN is also facing a claim from Cherie Blair after lawyers for the wife of former prime minister Tony Blair confirmed they had issued proceedings on her behalf.

Irish Independent

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