PRESS RELEASE: Hacked Off thanks Elizabeth Hurley for damages donation – Ms Hurley’s generous donation will fund our work on behalf of press victims who can’t afford High Court costs
A Statement was read out in Open Court this morning (17th May 2017) on behalf of Ms Elizabeth Hurley following her settlement with Trinity Mirror, which includes an apology and damages for phone hacking. Ms Hurley said that she will donate her damages to the Hacked Off Campaign.
Responding to Ms Hurley’s donation of the “substantial” sum she will receive, Hacked Off Joint Executive Director of the Campaign Dr Evan Harris said,
“Hacked Off is extremely grateful to Elizabeth Hurley for her generous donation. There are hundreds of victims of phone hacking and press abuse, the majority of whom do not have the resources to enable them to take legal action and obtain remedy for unlawful conduct by newspapers both in the past and today. Ms Hurley’s very generous donation will fund our work to support and campaign on their behalf.
“The original source of these damages is Trinity Mirror, and it is appropriate that their funds be used to help victims of their own misconduct and wrongdoing. But we would rather that Trinity Mirror saved the tens of millions of pounds it has spent settling hacking claims by signing up to a recognised independent regulator such as IMPRESS with a low-cost arbitration service. Doing so would allow the publisher to better invest in quality journalism, and in particular to support the many local newspapers that Trinity Mirror owns across the UK.
“Under the settlement with Ms Hurley, Trinity Mirror have to pay their own costs and Ms Hurley’s, which are likely to be much greater than the sum of damages. Under section 40, if commenced, such a scheme would protect the newspaper from having to pay the costs of similar claims brought against them in future.”
- The Statement in Open in Court, read out on behalf of Ms Hurley, is copied in full below.
- Hacked Off is the campaign for a free and accountable press, and we work with the victims of press abuse to achieve those aims.
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ELIZABETH HURLEY’S STATEMENT IN OPEN COURT
Solicitor for the Claimant (Anjlee Saigol)
- In this action for misuse of private information, I appear for the Claimant, Elizabeth Hurley. My learned friend [Richard Munden] appears for the Defendant.
- The Defendant is MGN Limited, a subsidiary of Trinity Mirror plc and the publisher of three influential national newspapers, The Daily Mirror, The Sunday Mirror and The People. These newspapers were read by millions during the years when the unlawful activities to which this case relates were widespread within these titles.
- In July 2011, days after the announcement of the Leveson Inquiry that was tasked to investigate the culture, practices and ethics of the British press in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, BBC Newsnight broadcast a report alleging the “widespread use of phone-hacking and private detectives at the Sunday Mirror”. At this time, the BBC’s source described seeing Ms Hurley’s phone being hacked and an MGN journalist noting down her voicemails. Trinity Mirror did not admit these allegations were true and Ms Hurley did not complain about them at the time.
- In these circumstances, on 6 March 2015, Ms Hurley brought proceedings for the publication of 58 separate articles, published between July 1998 and March 2007 by all three of MGN’s newspapers, which she believed contained information about her that had been illegally obtained. Whilst Ms Hurley believed that each one of these articles intruded upon her private affairs, it was MGN’s relentless, voyeuristic interest in her pregnancy between 2001 and 2002 that she still recalled with particular anger and horror so many years later.
- During this period, MGN’s journalists published a stream of articles about her, each detailing the clearly sensitive circumstances of her pregnancy. Whilst it is not admitted by MGN that this was the product of unlawful activity, through the pages of MGN’s national newspapers, Ms Hurley’s private matters were unravelled, including details of the ensuing paternity dispute, the fact of a series of crisis talks with her former partner, the involvement of lawyers, emotional responses and reactions, and disputes over her son, all presented and treated by MGN as if this painful time in Ms Hurley’s life was a drama to be enjoyed and consumed. This was without any care or thought for the very real impact these activities and articles would be having on Ms Hurley and and her pregnancy. Ms Hurley felt she was hounded by MGN’s journalists, and that these were private matters that were not in the public interest, or were obviously painful and stressful to all those involved (as one MGN article perversely made reference to).
- Although these events may be historic, Ms Hurley’s grief remains in the knowledge that many private details of this time in her life have become accessible to her now grown son to read. She would never have chosen to disclose these matters to her son, knowing the hurt they would and have in fact caused him.
- In February 2016, MGN admitted that its journalists illegally targeted Ms Hurley by hacking into her voicemails, as well as the voicemails of those close to her, and by hiring private investigators to find out information about her in order to publish in its newspapers.
- Ms Hurley believes that her case serves as an example of Trinity Mirror’s calculated attempt to conceal its wrongdoing from its victims.
- In November 2016, Ms Hurley and MGN agreed to resolve her claim and to join in this statement. MGN has also agreed to pay substantial damages to Ms Hurley, which she has donated to Hacked Off in order to assist other victims of the press.
Solicitor for the Defendant
- My Lord, MGN accepts what my learned friend has said. MGN has admitted that its journalists illegally targeted Ms Hurley by hacking into her voicemails, as well as the voicemails of those close to her, and by hiring private investigators to find out information about her in order to publish in its newspapers. It also admitted that certain articles she complained of derived from illegal activity.
- MGN accepts that the interception of voicemail messages and the procurement of private information about Ms Hurley in this and other unlawful ways should have never happened. MGN acknowledges that this behaviour was morally wrong and it deeply regrets the wrongful acts of its former employees and the damage and distress that this has caused to Ms Hurley.
- MGN is here today through me to offer its sincere apologies to Ms Hurley for the upset it has caused her as well as the impact its activities and articles had on her. MGN’s intrusion into Ms Hurley’s private life was wholly unacceptable and it regrets that these wrongful acts happened.