Murdoch's £100m plan to settle hacking cases before they get to court

News International will use legal fund to prevent further revelations

Rupert Murdoch's News International is thought to have prepared a legal fund of £100m to settle civil litigation actions brought by victims of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal ahead of a High Court showdown in the new year.

News International is understood to have earmarked the money to settle several high-profile cases, with some claimants likely to receive well above £1m, according to sources close to the situation. The litigation surrender fund is five times the £20m Wapping set aside in April when it ended five years of denial and admitted hacking had been rife at its best-selling paper. Since then the number of hacking cases has jumped from around 20 to about 55.

In total 800 people had voicemails intercepted by the NOTW, according to the Metropolitan Police, indicating that Mr Murdoch's UK newspaper group potentially faces hundreds more claims for damages. Lawyers acting for the existing round of claimants, mostly famous entertainers, sports people and terrorism victims, are thought to be in the final stages of negotiation in several cases, with settlements expected to be imminent.

One senior lawyer told The Independent the inflation in NI's settlement fund "indicates they are serious to avoid further damage in court".

News International appears to be keen to settle as many cases as possible before mid-February when Mr Justice Vos begins to hear a group of test cases – those of the actor Jude Law, the sports agent Sky Andrew, the footballer Paul Gascoigne, the solicitor Graham Shear and Sheila Henry, the mother of a victim of the London 7/7 bombings.

The High Court trials hold the potential to reveal more details of wrongdoing by NOTW and deliver further damaging publicity about the invasiveness of hacking and the distress of victims.

Several of those lead cases are among those thought likely to be settled out of court in coming weeks. Other claimants could be brought in to serve as new test cases, but that is likely to result in a delay which would allow Wapping more time to settle more of those key cases out of court.

Another lawyer said NI was now engaged in a "risk analysis" and was weighing up the overall costs of the trial and the "blueprint" for further damages that would emerge when Mr Justice Vos delivered his verdict.

In all, News International has settled 13 cases, probably at a cost of between £7m and £10m, although the company has declined to confirm numbers settled, outstanding or how much money it has set aside to settle them.

Sources at the company, which closed the NOTW in July, said it was committed to reaching speedy resolutions "with those who have been affected".

Paper money: The payouts so far

Bob and Sally Dowler: £3million

The news that the NOTW hacked into the phone of their missing daughter, Milly, in 2002 disgusted the public in July 2011.

Max Clifford: £1million

One of the non-Royals Mulcaire admitted hacking. A hush payment with a gagging clause.

Gordon Taylor: £425,000 plus £270,000 costs

Glenn Mulcaire admitted in 2006 hacking the phone of the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association.

Sienna Miller: £100,000 plus £200,000 costs

The actress had evidence showing her messages had been intercepted for stories about her relationship with Jude Law.

Tessa Jowell: £200,000 plus costs

As a former cabinet minister and key Blairite with important political secrets, Jowell's case was particularly sensitive.

Leslie Ash and Lee Chapman: £100,000 plus costs

The TV presenter and former footballer were alleging the NOTW had hacked their and their children's phones.

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home