Charlotte Church settles phone-hacking claim against News of the World

 

Charlotte Church has settled her phone-hacking damages action against News of the World publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) just days before it was to go to trial.

Lawyers today confirmed that terms had been agreed and that 25-year-old Miss Church would attend a hearing at London's High Court on Monday for the reading of a statement.

That was the date on which Mr Justice Vos was due to consider a claim by the singer and her parents, James and Maria, that 33 articles in the now defunct Sunday newspaper were the product of hacking into voicemails.

The family alleged they had a negative impact on their business and on Mrs Church's health.

The judge was also expected to establish a compensation framework for future cases.

It is also understood that Monday's hearing will see the disposal of the five cases still outstanding of the 60 claims launched before October last year.

They are those of Elle Macpherson's former adviser, Mary Ellen Field, footballer Ryan Giggs, former royal butler Paul Burrell, police officer and Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames - and her husband David Cook - and public relations consultant Nicola Phillips.

The judge will also conduct a case management conference to determine how pending claims should be dealt with and, if necessary, fix a date for any future trial.

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

NGN is also believed to be facing a claim from Cherie Blair after lawyers for the wife of former prime minister Tony Blair confirmed yesterday they have issued a claim on her behalf.

Graham Atkins, of Atkins Thomson, said: "I can confirm that we have issued a claim on behalf of Cherie Blair in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails.

"I will not be commenting any further at this time."

In each case that has settled in court, Michael Silverleaf QC, for NGN, which is facing a bill for damages and costs running into millions, has expressed its "sincere apologies" for the damage and distress caused.

Today, he told the judge that there were ongoing discussions between the parties about a process enabling prospective claimants to be dealt with, without the need for them to issue individual proceedings.

"It would be very much quicker and simpler for everybody. As you know, my client's intention is to pay compensation in every appropriate case."

The revelation of the Church settlement came during an application by the Guardian newspaper for disclosure of some documents in the case, which was partly resisted by counsel for Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the heart of the affair.

The judge said he hoped to give his ruling on that issue on Monday afternoon.

PA

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