News Corp to face more than 60 claims of phone hacking

 

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The Independent Online

An approaching deadline for new claimants to identify themselves as victims of illegal phone or email hacking activities has brought 13 new lawsuits against News International.

Among the new names, which brings the total number of claimants to over 60, is the Sean Russell, the father of Josie Russell, who survived a hammer attack in which her mother and sister were killed, and the 7/7 hero Paul Dadge.

Sarah Payne, who campaigned alongside the former editor of the News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, to ensure parents has access to paedophile data following the death of her eight-year-old daughter, has also issued a claim against Rupert Murdoch's UK company, along with Paul Burrell, Princess Diana's former butler, and the Australian pop star and talent-show panelist Dannii Minogue.

Most of the claimants have issued suits against News Group Newspaper or the private investigator hired by the tabloid to carry out phone hacking, Glenn Mulcaire.

But among the new claimants, one has named Neville Thurlbeck, NOTW's former chief reporter. The singer Cornelia Crisan is believed to be the first victim to specifically target Mr Thurlbeck for damages.

Mr Thurlbeck was arrested and bailed in April in connection with phone-hacking allegations. He is also suing News International for unfair dismissal.

News International is still expected to seek out-of-court settlements with a large number of the claimants before Mr Justice Vos begins the proceedings of a selected number of test cases in January.

These cases will help determine the level of damages in the remaining claims.

News International had set aside a pot of £20m to deal with claimants. But after the £3m settlement with the parents of the murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, the sum looks wildly insufficient.

Among the other high-profile names in the list of 63 is Tony Blair's former spin chief, Alastair Campbell, the former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, and MPs including Chris Bryant, Tessa Jowell and George Galloway.

Paul Dacre, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, is to give a 10-minute presentation to the Leveson Inquiry next week in which he will set out his case for the continued self-regulation of the press.

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