Two more tabloid newspapers were dragged into the phone-hacking scandal last night with the former England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson among four people intending to sue the Daily Mirror and the Sunday People.
The former nanny to David Beckham’s children, Abbie Gibson, has been joined by Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati and the former Blackburn Rovers captain Gary Flitcroft in seeking damages at the High Court from the People.
Mr Eriksson’s action against the Daily Mirror could prove the most damaging to the owners of the two titles, Mirror Group Newspapers, given that it relates to a period when Piers Morgan was serving as editor.
Mr Morgan, who was sacked as editor after his newspaper was found to have used faked photographs of British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners, denied any involvement in phone hacking after he was implicated during the Leveson Inquiry by high-profile figures such as Jeremy Paxman.
Until now, firm allegations of phone hacking have related to only titles owned by Rupert Murdoch’s rival News Corporation: The News of the World and, to a lesser extent, The Sun.
The closure of the News of the World, which had been the biggest selling newspaper in Britain, due to the damage caused to its brand by the disclosure that it had hacked the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler means the new development will cause intense concern to executives at Mirror Group.
Mark Lewis, the solicitor for the four claimants, told Sky News: “There might not be a documentary smoking gun, but we will show there is a smoking bullet, the consequence of the actions.”
The claims lodged at the High Court allege “breach of confidence and misuse of private information,” in relation to the “interception and/or misuse of mobile phone voicemail messages and/or the interception of telephone accounts”.
Trinity Mirror, the parent company of Mirror Group, said last night: “We have no comment, we are unaware action has been taken at the High Court.”
Trinity Mirror shares fell 11 per cent today, reversing some of the recent strong gains for the stock.
Johnathan Barrett, an analyst at N+1 Singer, said: "The shares have been very strong and buoyed by an improved nationals advertising market and the likelihood of greater cost savings in 2013.
"The claims will weigh on the shares, in part because many had assumed the subject was fading away as an issue."
Trinity Mirror said in a statement made through the London stock exchange: "We note the allegations made against us by Mark Lewis in today's papers.
"We have not yet received any claims nor have we been provided with any substantiation for those claims.
"As we have previously stated, all our journalists work within the criminal law and the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct."