A series of high-profile phone hacking cases against News International have been settled in the High Court today.
The 18 claimants who settled included Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Ashley Cole and John Prescott. Statements were read to the court by legal representatives of the victims.
Claimants received more than £645,000 altogether – not including amounts paid to footballer Ashley Cole, Christopher Shipman, son of murderer Harold Shipman, and former Labour MP Claire Ward, which were undisclosed.
The statement of Jude Law said the actor had changed his mobile phone “a number of times” after noticing unusual activity, and became suspicious of News of the World and Sun articles containing private information published from 2003 to 2007.
The actor release a statement after the hearing.
Law said: “I was truly appalled by what I was shown by the police and by what my lawyers have discovered. It is clear that I, along with many others, was kept under constant surveillance for a number of years.
“No aspect of my private life was safe from intrusion by News Group newspapers, including the lives of my children and the people who work for me. It was not just that my phone messages were listened to: News Group also paid people to watch me and my house for days at a time and to follow me and those close to me both in this country and abroad.”
Mark Thomson, Law’s lawyer, told the court voicemail messages of the actor and his friends and family had been intercepted and he had been physically harassed by News International reporters and photographers.
Law received £130,000 damages plus legal costs.
Michael Silverleaf QC, acting for News Group Newspapers, said his client offered “sincere and unreserved apologies” to the actor.
A statement from Ciara Parkes, former PR representative to Law and Sienna Miller, described how she had arranged to have a secret mobile that only she, Miller and Law knew about. Despite precautions, articles about the couple were printed in the News of the World, and journalists “always appeared to know” where the couple were meeting.
It added: “This caused further distrust and suspicion between the claimant, Ms Miller and Mr Law as well as others close to them”.
Parkes received £35,000. Ben Jackson, assistant to Law, accepted £40,000.
Sadie Frost, previously married to Law, was awarded £50,000 for the interception of voicemails, including messages left on the phone of her children’s nanny.
The statement of Christopher Shipman, son of serial murderer Harold Shipman, described being the object of “intense media scrutiny”.
It said: “Throughout the period when the Claimant was subject to media scrutiny as a result of the crimes of his father, he never spoke to the media or allowed the media… access to any information.
“He took this approach because he wished to maintain his privacy in the face of extremely difficult and distressing circumstances which were the subject of worldwide media interest and were no fault of his own.”
In 2011, Shipman was told Operation Weeting had evidence of unlawful interception on his emails. He received “substantial damages plus costs”.
Footballer Ashley Cole also received substantial damages, and lawyer Graham Shear, who has acted on the footballer’s behalf, accepted £25,000 over phone hacking.
Lord Prescott was awarded £40,000 after it was revealed News of the World hired private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to intercept the politician’s voicemails and those of his staff. Prescott’s emails were also accessed illegally.
Other claimaints included rugby player Gavin Henson and Guy Pelly, a friend of Prince William – both awarded £40,000 plus costs -, and Chris Bryant MP, awarded £30,000 plus costs. HJK, an anonymous individual who appeared before the Leveson Inquiry last year, accepted £60,000 damages.
Damages were accepted by Steve Coogan’s former partner Lisa Gower (£30,000), Joan Hammell – Lord Prescott’s assistant (£40,000 plus costs) -, Denis MacShane MP (£32,500 plus costs), writer Tom Rowland (£25,000 plus costs), and journalist Joan Smith (£27,500 plus costs), who also had statements read in the court.
Barrister David Sherborne told the court singer Charlotte Church will give evidence at a trial against News Group Newspapers and Mulcaire on February 13.
Solicitor Mark Thomson said: ““After years of denials and cover-up, News Group Newspapers has finally admitted the depth and scale of the unlawful activities of many of their journalists at the News of World and the culture of illegal conduct at their paper.
“After more than a year of litigation, they have now not only made admissions and apologies to many individual victims of the phone hacking conspiracy but also made general admissions about what went on. “