Judge warns Rupert Murdoch: Your trials aren't over

Last-minute £500,000 deal with Charlotte Church puts an end to one high-profile hacking court case – but others are imminent

News International closed off the first wave of phone-hacking claims last night by reaching a settlement with Charlotte Church – but was immediately told by a High Court judge that a trial date for the second wave of claimants will be set next week.

NI's settlement with the Welsh singer halted the high-profile trial scheduled for Monday, but before its legal team had time to celebrate, Mr Justice Vos announced a new trial date for more alleged victims, including Cherie Blair QC, the wife of the former Prime Minister.

"Vos II" will mirror the legal process that ended with 55 claims, which included a star line-up of actors, politicians and celebrities, all settling out of court. The judge said he was "conscious of the impending trial date that has caused many cases to settle".

For Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and its battered reputation, the pain and the growing legal bill continues. The judge offered no respite when he 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."

Reworking the 1966 World Cup final commentary, one lawyer at the centre of the cases remarked: "They think it's all over – but it isn't."

It can also be revealed that fears for her mother's health forced Ms Church to settle her hacking claim against NI out of court, in the face of hardball tactics by Mr Murdoch's lawyers which would have made Maria Church a focus of a trial.

On Monday in the High Court, NI's senior counsel Michael Silverleaf will quickly accept liability for a litany of wrongdoing on behalf of the News of the World that came close to destroying the Church family. The settlement, including costs, is likely to be in the region of £500,000.

But the legal language will barely tell the story. An independent psychiatric evaluation of Mrs Church had recently been carried out, as a pre-trial review had ordered. The legal aim was to determine how much damage the NOTW's intrusive practices had actually caused.

A respected consultant from the Priory clinic examined Mrs Church. The process was said to be traumatic for a woman whose fragile state was discussed by her daughter during her testimony to the Leveson Inquiry.

Ms Church told the inquiry that her mother attempted suicide after finding out the NOTW was about to run a story about her husband's alleged affair and drug taking. NI, however, questioned the independence of the evaluation, claiming it was not legally robust, and with days left before the trial date it wanted her examined again by another psychiatrist which it would appoint. Charlotte Church feared the effect on her mother of having the process repeated – explaining her willingness to settle. At the beginning of this week a figure was agreed between the two sides, reflecting the damage to Charlotte, her mother, and the family's business. But the words that are to be read out in front of Mr Justice Vos on Monday were still a source of conflict.

Ms Church wanted clarity on what the NOTW did to her and her family. She wanted the apology read out in court to leave nobody in doubt what NI were agreeing to. Finally on Wednesday a deal was done.

NI's legal bill in the Church case alone is currently estimated to be close to £1.5m. A drawn-out lengthy legal journey to the appeal would take that past £2m. Throw in Ms Church's own legal bill, and bankruptcy could threaten if she lost in the appeal court.

Charlotte and Rupert: A love-hate relationship

* As a 13-year-old, Charlotte Church agreed to sing – for no fee – at the 1999 wedding of Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng. Her management believed they had won News International's goodwill. They were wrong. NI disputes the claim.

* The Sun ran reports of a website's "countdown clock" in the run-up to the singer's 16th birthday. The message: sex with Ms Church was about to become legal.

* The Sun ran a story about her first pregnancy. Her parents had yet to be told.

* A NOTW headline screamed "Church three-in-a-bed cocaine shock". Except it was about the singer's stepfather. Her mother was described as attempting to take her own life as a result.

* Her action against the NOTW centred on 33 articles. NI's lawyers claimed that not all the articles involved damage to her or her family. She claimed the NOTW knew of her mother's fragile state.

How NOTW 'erased unhelpful emails'

New evidence has emerged which appears to support claims that senior staff at the News of the World attempted to suppress and destroy evidence of hacking at the newspaper.

Documents released by a High Court judge show the company had a policy "to eliminate in a consistent manner" emails that "could be unhelpful in the context of future litigation in which a News International company is a defendant", the Daily Telegraph reported.

The documents, which were created by lawyers working for hacking victims and based on information provided by News International's own internal investigation into phone hacking, also state that hundreds of thousands of emails were deleted "on nine separate occasions", according to the newspaper.

They also contain claims that one unnamed reporter carried on intercepting phone messages after the 2006 arrest of Glenn Mulcaire.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Outbound Telesales Executives - B2B

£18,000 - £22,000: Recruitment Genius: A number of exciting opportunities have...

Head of Ad Sales - UK Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: An award-winning global mul...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London