News Corp 'hacked phones on US soil' – so were these three the intended targets?

Lawyer who represented News of the World victims in Britain turns sights on paper's parent company

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is facing new hacking battles in the United States. The British lawyer who helped expose the criminal culture inside the News of the World has revealed plans to file at least three separate lawsuits on behalf of clients who claim their phones were hacked while they were on US soil.

Lawyers in California and New York are being lined up by Mark Lewis – who represented the parents of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler – in three individual cases expected to be filed against News Corp in the next few weeks.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Mr Lewis also revealed that his US legal targets includes the Murdoch empire's corporate arm, with a further suit centred on what he claimed were "the dirty tricks that might have been used in order to further the commercial aims for News Corporation".

Although no specifics have been given for what is claimed will be three high-profile cases, there is already speculation that Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell, the former England football captain David Beckham, and an associate of the leading actor Jude Law, may be have been potential victims hacked in the US.

Mr Lewis would only say that the cases which will be brought "imminently" are connected to the royal household and Princess Diana, with another alleged victim connected to England's national football team, and the third a "Hollywood case in which the alleged victim was in contact with a top celebrity".

At least one of the cases, according to Mr Lewis, involves allegations that the phone of a US citizen was illegally accessed.

In his lengthy legal fights with News International in the UK, Mr Lewis has proved an awkward and difficult opponent. He was instrumental in exposing the lie behind News International's repeated claim that phone hacking at the NOTW was confined to "one rogue reporter".

Recently, after News International avoided the embarrassment of a high-profile court case involving the victims of phone hacking, Mr Lewis promised to "take it [the legal fight] to America".

Opening a US front on phone hacking was first revealed in The Independent in February. The new development indicates that all the expensive legal muscle recently gathered by News Corp could soon be seeing front-line action.

The hiring of former US Justice Department lawyers and a former White House counsel suggests News Corp were anticipating potentially damaging hacking-related challenges coming through the US courts.

The imminent arrival of a home-front hacking scandal will do little for News Corp's brand and the siege mentality it has tried to shake off by settling with the UK-based victims of the NOTW.

News International, Murdoch's UK print business, has been identified as a stress-related component of News Corp's global value. And although no member of the Murdoch family is now at the helm of a UK wing of the media conglomerate, it will be Rupert and his son James, until recently NI's executive chairman, who will be blamed for bringing more bad news to the firm's home turf.

The parliamentary investigation into phone hacking is expected to deliver its report before the summer. James Murdoch's role in failing to address the issue of wrongdoing inside Wapping, or worse being potentially part of a cover-up, was already an issue worrying the News Corp board.

The clean-up inside News International is already being examined by the US Department of Justice.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Two christmas trees ,Moonbeam (2L), Moonchester (2R) and Santa Claus outside the Etihad Stadium
footballAll the action from today's games
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas