Sorry day for Murdoch as High Court hears hacking apology

News International hopes to settle claims - but lawyer says more victims emerge every day

Lawyers acting for News International will shock the High Court today when they offer a humiliating apology to victims of phone hacking and announce that Rupert Murdoch's media group has settled dozens of outstanding claims linked to criminal activities at the News Of The World.

There have been months of legal manoeuvring by lawyers acting for the company, which is still aiming to halt a civil trial scheduled for next month and limit the continuing damage to the Murdoch brand. The reputational cost of offering an unqualified apology to dozens of public figures and at least one victim of the worst terrorist atrocity on the British mainland will be balanced by a degree of relief that the company is on the threshold of an endgame for civil claims from the hacking scandal.

News International's senior counsel, Michael Silverleaf, QC, tell Mr Justice Vos at the High Court this morning that 40 of a remaining 50 hacking victims have recently accepted offers to end their legal actions against the Murdoch empire. Among the most high-profile victims who have accepted NI's cash are the Labour MP Chris Bryant and the former footballer Paul Gascoigne.

Others who have settled or are close to settling include: Tony Blair's former communications chief, Alastair Campbell; the disgraced former Labour MP Elliot Morley; and Sheila Henry, whose son Christian Small was killed in the 7/7 bomb attacks on London's transport network.

Lawyers close to the process said the two main law firms engaged in negotiations on behalf of News International, Linklaters and Olswang, were engaged in "a final push" to prevent the civil trial scheduled for 13 February from becoming an arena where more of the NOTW's dirty laundry is seen in public.

Steven Heffer, a solicitor representing the former Labour MP Claire Ward, musician Noel Gallagher's former partner, Meg Mathews, and Dan Lichters, a police officer and former friend of the comedian Michael Barrymore, who were all hacked by the the now-defunct Sunday tabloid, said: "A large number of claims against News Group Newspapers have settled or are close to settlement. These include my clients where agreement has been reached for payment of substantial damages and appropriate apologies, subject to the sanction of judge."

However Mr Heffer said the scale of NI's continuing problems was yet to be fully revealed, adding "There are more claims to come and I am acting for many further victims of phone hacking. The police are informing individuals that they have been victims on a daily basis. They have simply not got round to telling everyone. "

The civil trial is intended to set out the blueprint for the level of financial compensation and legal costs for all civil actions – current and future – brought against News International relating to illegal interception of voicemails. A total of 63 cases were filed in the first wave of damages claims. But after Scotland Yard disclosed last month that it had identified 803 victims from the files of the jailed private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, more claims will be concluded in light of Mr Justice Vos's eventual ruling on the appropriate levels of damages. The trial is expected to go beyond any detail so far heard at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones