Rupert Murdoch draws line at payout to Elle Macpherson's aide Mary-Ellen Field
The scandal is estimated to have cost NI £150m to date, with at least 50 cases yet to be heard
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Friday 07 September 2012
A concerned Lord Justice Leveson described her case as the "collateral damage" of the phone hacking scandal. But yesterday Mary-Ellen Field, the former adviser to the supermodel Elle Macpherson, learned that Rupert Murdoch's lawyers want her entire case dismissed as legally worthless.
The attempt to have Ms Field's case struck out in a special hearing scheduled for 10 October is the first time News International has resorted to such a hard-line strategy, following high-profile and substantial settlements to Jude Law, Steve Coogan, Sienna Miller, Charlotte Church and many others.
Ms Field has consistently claimed she was the indirect victim of Elle Macpherson being targeted by the News of the World. Neither News International nor Ms Macpherson have publically challenged her account. Hired in 2003 to work for the Australian model, she was abruptly fired in early 2006 after Ms Macpherson accused her of being an alcoholic and of leaking personal stories to the press, allegations she denied.
She said the dismissal effectively ended her lucrative career in sponsorship and licensing, and led, she claims, to the development of a neurocardiological illness that required surgery.
Scotland Yard listed the model as a victim of phone hacking in 2006. In her statement to the Leveson Inquiry, Ms Field stated: "It became clear that these interceptions were the source of the leaks of Elle's [personal] information."
Along with the gathered evidence on Ms Macpherson, the pair believe they were NOTW targets for close to three years.
The company would make no comment on whether at the hearing it would seek substantial costs from Ms Field, said by a source as likely to run well into six figures. NI's case against Ms Field will centre on its assessment that there is not enough evidence to substantiate her claim.
Lodged in March 2011, Ms Field's lawsuit against NI had been widely regarded as likely to result in one of the largest settlements due to her loss of earnings and career damage.
So far NI has run up a bill of close to £150m relating to the phone hacking scandal. Although the company has settled nearly all of the first tranche of civil actions against it, the second wave of more than 50 actions is scheduled to be heard in court early next year.
News International would make no formal comment on the likely content of the summary hearing, while Ms Field declined to comment on how she intended to continue her legal fight.
Colombian ex-president is on board
Álvaro Uribe, the ex-President of Colombia, whose former chief of staff stands accused of allegedly ordering illegal wiretaps, has been named as a nominee to the board of Rupert Murdoch's New Corp, the company said this week. Bernardo Moreno, his former chief of staff, was arrested last year after being accused of allegedly spying on judges, journalists and politicians. Mr Uribe has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
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