Father of Josie Russell steps forward as one of 13 new hacking claimants

 

The father of Josie Russell, who survived a frenzied hammer attack in which her sister and mother were killed, is suing News International over alleged phone hacking by the News of the World, it emerged yesterday.

A looming deadline for new claimants to identify themselves as victims of illegal phone or email hacking activities has prompted 13 new lawsuits against the company.

Shaun Russell is one of a number of possible victims who have issued legal writs against the group which owned the former tabloid. Also among the new names, which bring the total number of claimants to more than 60, is the 7/7 hero Paul Dadge.

Sarah Payne, who campaigned with the former editor of the News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, to ensure parents had access to paedophile data following the death of her eight-year-old daughter, has also issued a claim against Rupert Murdoch's UK company – as have Paul Burrell, Princess Diana's former butler, and the Australian pop star and talent show panelist, Dannii Minogue.

Most of the claimants have issued suits against News Group Newspaper or the private investigator hired by the tabloid to carry out phone hacking, Glenn Mulcaire.

One of the new claimants, though, has named Neville Thurlbeck, the NOTW's former chief reporter. The singer Cornelia Crisan is believed to be the first victim to specifically target Mr Thurlbeck for damages. He was arrested and bailed in April in connection with phone-hacking allegations and is himself suing News International for unfair dismissal.

Other well-known figures and celebrities claiming damages included politician Lord Prescott, actor Jude Law, comedian Steve Coogan and ex-footballer Paul Gascoigne.

Earlier this year at the High Court, Mr Justice Vos heard that around 30 high-profile people who suspect their phone messages were intercepted by NOTW journalists were taking legal action. That number has now doubled.

Another claimant is Sheila Henry, the mother of London bombing victim Christian Small, who died in the July 2005 blasts.

Politicians Denis MacShane, Simon Hughes, Mark Oaten, Tessa Jowell, Chris Bryant, and George Galloway, and former Downing Street communications chief Alastair Campbell are also taking legal action.

News International is still expected to seek out-of-court settlements with many of the claimants before Mr Justice Vos begins proceedings for selected test cases in January. These cases will help determine the level of damages in the remaining claims. News International had set aside £20m to deal with claimants. But after the £3m settlement with the parents of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, the sum now looks wildly inadequate. The lawyer Mark Lewis, who represents some of the claimants, said even £100m would not be enough to deal with the final number of identified victims.

A spokesman for News International said yesterday: "News International is committed to reaching fair and where possible swift settlements with victims of illegal voicemail interception and has unreservedly apologised to those affected."

I may have been hacked too, says Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue suspects her phone may have been hacked while she was suffering from breast cancer.

Speaking after she received an honorary degree from Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, the singer spoke of the challenges of fighting the disease while in the spotlight. She said being in the public eye had been a "blessing" because of the support she received but a "curse" because of media intrusion.

Asked if her phone had been hacked, she added: "It may have been." She did not comment further, but said: "Cancer is like going into war and you have to draw on everything you've got to fight it.

"Fighting the disease in the spotlight was both a blessing and a curse. A curse because of the constant attention and the press sometimes wanting more information than you want to give, but a blessing because of the love and support I received from complete strangers."

The singer was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy to beat the disease.

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