Jude Law in £130k phone-hacking payout from News Group


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The Independent Online

Actor Jude Law headed a list of 37 people from all walks of life who settled their damages cases arising from the phone-hacking scandal today.

The star's compensation of £130,000 was the biggest of 15 awards disclosed at London's High Court as Mr Justice Vos listened to 18 agreed statements being read out to a packed courtroom.

Three of the damages awards - including that made to footballer Ashley Cole - were not made public, but the tally, excluding those, reached a total of £645,000.

In each case, Michael Silverleaf QC, for News International subsidiary News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of the defunct News of the World, expressed its "sincere apologies" for the damage and distress caused.

Today's developments mean that the majority of the 60 claims launched against NGN have been settled, with the company facing a bill for damages and costs running into millions.

It is expected that more statements will follow - but a hearing is set for February 13 to deal with ten as yet unsettled cases, including that of singer Charlotte Church, and provide a compensation framework for cases that do not settle as well as any yet to be brought.

Mr Justice Vos, who will try the case, has described it as one "of great public importance".

Gavin Millar QC, for private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, emphasised today that Mulcaire, who is also being sued for breach of confidence and misuse of private information, was not involved in agreeing the wording of the statements and was not a party to them.

Reading the statement on Law's behalf, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said that the effect of the "sustained campaign of surveillance, pursuit and harassment", as well as the publication of intrusive and private information had been "profound, while Law himself later hit out at the "appalling" behaviour of the newspaper.

Lord Prescott told the Hull Daily Mail: "Today's court decision at long last brings clarity, apology and compensation for the years of hacking into my telephone messages by Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers."

MP Chris Bryant told Radio 4's World at One programme: "The worst of it is you start blaming the people who are closest to you, your family members, you think they must have been paid money or something like that."

After it was announced that the case brought by Sara Payne, mother of murdered Sarah Payne, had settled, her friend Shy Keenan said she was just "sincerely glad" it was all over and wanted to concentrate on her stroke recovery and on building a free public service information website for those victimised by paedophile crimes.

It is understood that the case brought by former England footballer Paul Gascoigne is still in the process of settling.

News International has previously confirmed settlements with chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association Gordon Taylor, publicist Max Clifford, TalkSport presenter Andy Gray and interior designer Kelly Hoppen.

Former Labour Cabinet member David Blunkett is also said to have reached settlement, although News International would not confirm this.

Actress Sienna Miller settled her privacy and harassment claim for £100,000 in June last year.

The awards announced were:

* £30,000 to MP Chris Bryant

* Undisclosed damages to footballer Ashley Cole

* £50,000 to Jude Law's ex-wife, designer Sadie Frost

* £30,000 to Lisa Gower, who had a relationship with actor Steve Coogan

* £60,000 to an anonymous individual known as HJK

* £40,000 to Joan Hammell, former chief of staff to Lord Prescott

* £40,000 to rugby player Gavin Henson

* £40,000 to Jude Law's personal assistant Ben Jackson

* £130,000 to actor Jude Law

* £32,500 to Labour MP Denis MacShane

* £35,000 to PR consultant Ciara Parkes

* £40,000 to entrepreneur Guy Pelly

* £40,000 to Lord Prescott

* £25,000 to journalist Tom Rowland

* £25,000 to solicitor Graham Shear

* Substantial undisclosed damages including aggravated damages to Christopher Shipman, son of serial killer Harold Shipman

* £27,500 to author and journalist Joan Smith

* Substantial undisclosed damages to former Labour MP Claire Ward