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.

News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
News
i100
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin