Cherie Blair sues over hacking as Church case heads to court

 

Cherie Blair has joined a second wave of phone-hacking claimants, her solicitor confirmed yesterday, as it emerged that Charlotte Church's legal battle against News International (NI) is still on track for a High Court showdown next week.

Mrs Blair joins the new second wave of claimants against News Group Newspapers and the jailed private investigator the News of the World (NOTW) commissioned to hack phones, Glenn Mulcaire, which includes the footballer Peter Crouch, the Ukip politician Nigel Farage, the singer James Blunt, and Eimear Cook, the former wife of the golfer Colin Montgomerie.

Graham Atkins, the solicitor of Mrs Blair, who is married to the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, confirmed a claim had been made "in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails". In November, Mr Blair's former press secretary Alastair Campbell told the Leveson Inquiry he had wrongly suspected Mrs Blair's friend Carole Caplin of tipping off newspapers about her.

There are close to 100 alleged phone-hacking victims in the process of considering formal claims against NI at the High Court, with Ms Church's trial still on course to provide a high-profile conclusion to the first wave of cases.

Despite optimistic signals that Rupert Murdoch's UK subsidiary had made a "substantial" offer that was close to being accepted by the Welsh singer and her family, crucial differences between the two sides have not been sufficiently resolved. Ms Church's phone-hacking battle, scheduled to begin on Monday, is the last one standing out of six test cases expected to provide the High Court with a framework that would be used for other claims against NI.

The reasons behind the remaining gulf between NI and Ms Church are unclear. However, in the recent pre-trial review before Mr Justice Vos, NI's senior counsel, Michael Silverleaf, QC, made it clear that the business affairs of the singer's family, and the mental health of her mother, Maria, would be a key issue in the trial.

Mr Silverleaf successfully argued for a pre-trial psychological evaluation of Mrs Church to be undertaken before Monday's trial date, along with a specific examination of the family's pub business, said to be affected by years of illegal phone interceptions by Mr Mulcaire and the NOTW.

This indicated that NI's defence against Ms Church will go beyond just her own personal life. The intention to focus on the intimate details of her parents' private life may have hardened the resolve of the singer to seek "punitive" damages in court for the distress she told the Leveson Inquiry had been caused to her family by the NOTW.

Even if there is an 11th-hour agreement between the two sides, Mr Justice Vos's association with phone-hacking victims' cases will continue. He has given instructions that new cases will be filed to his office, while a new fast-track process allowing new victims quicker access to material held by the police and NI is also being considered.

Mr Justice Vos will also today consider an application from lawyers representing Mr Mulcaire, that should the trial go ahead on Monday, all or key parts of it should be subject to reporting restrictions by the media. His legal team will argue that the former private detective, who is facing new criminal action over phone hacking, cannot receive a fair trail if details of the NOTW internal practices are discussed in the trial.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border