News of the World phone hacking report: Majority of victims were only connected to celebrities

Less than a third of the primary phone hacking targets came from the world of entertainment or music

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The Independent Online

The vast majority of News of the World phone hacking victims were connected to celebrities rather than the rich and famous themselves, according to a report published today.

Almost 70 per cent of the 591 people who settled claims with the newspaper’s parent company News International either knew the celebrity in question through work, family or being in a relationship with them.

Less than a third of the primary phone hacking targets came from the world of entertainment or music. The rest were mainly from sport, politics, journalism, the police, the Royal Household, the law, and the military.

One in ten cases involved people caught up in a personal tragedy, such as a friend or relative’s murder or a victim of a terrorist attack. Examples identified in the Media Standards Trust report included the partners of Ulrika Johnson and Davina McCall, the ex-partners of Kate Moss, Robbie Williams and Paul Gascoigne and the parents of Charlotte Church and murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Police estimate that 5,500 people were ‘likely’ or ‘potential’ victims of News of the World phone hacking - a figure that may rise as new evidence comes to light.

 

Former editor Andy Coulson was released from jail last November after serving five months of an 18-month jail sentence for conspiracy to hack phones. During his eight-month trial a senior judge at the Old Bailey said Mr Coulson had to take a “major share of the blame” for the phone hacking at the News of the World under his watch. Three other former NOTW executives have been jailed over phone hacking.

Martin Moore, Director of the MST, said: “Due to the incomplete, inconclusive and sometimes incoherent nature of the evidence, we will never know exactly how many people were hacked by the News of the World.”

The trust analysis, which states is “the first systematic attempt to analyse who was hacked by the News of the World and why”, looked at a sample of 303 people who settled claims with News UK in court and 288 anonymous victims who settled claims through the News UK compensation scheme.

The report does not include the victims of Mirror Group Newspapers, which has recently admitted liability for phone hacking, and the Trust said it may publish a second report following the culmination of ongoing court cases.