Phone hacking: Trinity Mirror 'truly sorry' in public apology for illegally accessing voicemails

Compensation claims could cost the company £12 million so far

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A newspaper group, that owns titles such as the Daily Mirror, made a public apology today to victims of its unlawful practice of phone hacking.

Trinity Mirror – the company which also owns Sunday Mirror and Sunday People – admits that its newspaper journalists hacked voicemails “some years ago” in order to obtain private information to publish in national stories.

The company initially admitted in September last year to hacking phones of four people, before others emerged. The victims were entertainer Shane Richie, soap actresses Shobna Gulati and Lucy Benjamin, and BBC creative director Alan Yentob.

Trinity Mirror described their conduct as 'unacceptable'

The apology on their website says: “Such behaviour represented an unwarranted and unacceptable intrusion into people’s private lives.

“It was unlawful and should never have happened, and fell far below the standards our readers expect and deserve.

“We are taking this opportunity to give every victim a sincere and unreserved apology for what happened. We recognise that our actions will have caused them distress for which we are truly sorry.”

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Shane Richie was hacked by Trinity Mirror journalists

Trinity Mirror has already settled claims made by several celebrities and their staff including ex Dr Who actor Christopher Eccleston and David and Victoria Beckham’s former nanny Abbie Gibson.

Singer Cilla Black, actor Darren Day, EastEnders star Jessie Wallace and singer Peter Andre also successfully sued Mirror Group Newspapers, which is a subsidiary of Trinity Mirror, the BBC reports.

A further £8 million is being set aside to settle claims that could emerge in the future, which has taken the total for legal fees and compensation costs to £12 million.

Phone hacking came into light during the News of the World scandal

The apology, which is also printed on page two of today’s paper, says: “Our newspapers have a long and proud history of holding those in power to account. As such, it is only right we are held to account ourselves.”

Phone hacking first came to light when journalists working for the now-defunct News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK (formerly News International), were found to have gained access to dozens of high-profile people’s voicemails.

Those targeted by NotW hacking included murdered school girl Millie Dowler, victims of the 7/7 London bombings, Kate and Gerry McCann, ex-deputy prime minister Lord Prescott and former England player Paul Gascoigne.

The scandal led to a large police investigation and then the Levenson inquiry into press regulation and conduct. NotW closed down in 2011.