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
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
football
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea