Coogan: Determined to show depths press can sink


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The Independent Online

Steve Coogan and Paul Gascoigne are among the latest people to have settled claims for damages over phone-hacking, the High Court has heard.

Former footballer Mr Gascoigne received £68,000, while comedian Mr Coogan got £40,000, in a deal with Rupert Murdoch's News International subsidiary, News Group Newspapers (NGN), which published the News of the World.

In total, 15 claims against the Sunday tabloid have been settled, involving 19 people.

Other high-profile public figures who settled their claims yesterday included Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Lib Dems, sports agent Sky Andrew, former Labour communications director Alastair Campbell, former Labour MP George Galloway, jockey Kieren Fallon, musician Pete Doherty, journalist Dennis Rice – former investigations editor at the Mail on Sunday – and dancer Laura Rooney.

Mr Coogan insisted that his case against the NoTW "has never been about the money", saying he had taken the action to expose the way in which parts of the press had been operating.

"Like other people who sued, I was determined to do my part to show the depths to which the press can sink in pursuit of private information.

"Neither the police nor the Government were willing to hold those responsible accountable for unlawful acts."

Payments for claimants ranged from £25,000 for Mr Galloway, who had five voicemails accessed in 2003, to £75,000 for Mr Andrew.

The cost of the hacking was laid bare by lawyers representing Mr Gascoigne, who said the former England international star had suffered "mental harm and distress" and wrongly accused friends and family of giving stories about him to the NoTW, when in fact his voicemails had been intercepted.

His solicitor, Gerald Shamash, said: "[The NoTW] has recognised that its activities have had a seriously detrimental effect on the well-being of Mr Gascoigne... Mr Gascoigne wishes to take this opportunity to apologise, publicly, to his friends and family for wrongly accusing them of leaking information to the press."

Mr Campbell said he would be using the settlement to make donations to organisations "so that at least some small good for the causes I believe in can come out of the criminality and cultural depravity of others".

The latest payments, coming weeks after a first round of 37, mean that 54 of the original 60 cases have now been settled. Five more cannot be heard yet, while Charlotte Church and her family's case is due for trial later this month.