Charlotte Church wins £600,000 hacking payout

 

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

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 has 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 told the judge: "My Lord this is the real story. The one that the News of the World never ran.

"It is only due to the courage and determination of Maria, James and Charlotte that I am able to stand before you today to confirm these events, and tell you that finally the News of the World have accepted responsibility for the way they have treated my clients."

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

Michael Silverleaf QC, 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.

"Nothing was deemed off-limits by those who pursued me and my family, just to make money for a multinational news corporation."

She added: "I wanted to bring the individuals responsible to court, and make them explain why they did this to me and my family.

"I am sure that this is exactly what has driven a number of people to bring legal claims against the same organisation."

She said she was now going to focus her energies on assisting the criminal investigation and the Leveson Inquiry, and intended to dedicate her portion of the settlement to protecting herself and her children from further invasions of privacy.

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.

Acknowledging today that the situation was changing "from minute to minute", Hugh Tomlinson QC said 14 new cases had been issued and 180 individuals had approached solicitors and were considering claims.

Metropolitan Police figures showed that there were 829 potential victims, of whom 231 were said to be uncontactable.

Setting a date of February 18 2013 for a four-week trial of any remaining claims, the judge said that the next case management conference, on April 20, should consider a cut-off date for filing claims, a register of claimants, the possibility of a group litigation order and the sharing of legal representation and costs.

PA

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Getty
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor