News24

UK celebs victims of phone hacking

2012-04-21 08:47

London - Forty-six new phone-hacking lawsuits have been filed against Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper group, with footballers Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs among the latest to sue, a court heard on Friday.

The cases bring to more than 100 the total number due to be heard at the high court in London next February unless there is a settlement with News International, part of media baron Murdoch's US-based News Corporation empire.

Lawyer Hugh Tomlinson also told judge Geoffrey Vos that police had now contacted 1 174 likely victims of phone hacking - a significant rise from the estimated 800 that Scotland Yard said it had identified in December.

After the hearing, a law firm issued a list of those who have filed claims in the latest round of litigation, including Manchester United players Rooney and Giggs.

They also included Emma Noble, the former daughter in law of ex-prime minister John Major, singer James Blunt and footballers Peter Crouch, Kieron Dyer and Jermaine Jenas.

Some names known

Some names in the list were already known about, such as Cherie Blair, the wife of another former prime minister Tony Blair.

Revelations that Murdoch's News of the World tabloid illegally accessed the voicemails of a murdered schoolgirl, as well as dozens of celebrities, politicians and crime victims, forced him to close the paper last July.

The scandal has already cost News International more than $125m, company figures revealed this month.

The company has settled with dozens of victims, including British actor Jude Law, actress Sienna Miller, footballer Ashley Cole and former deputy prime minister John Prescott.

Judge Vos meanwhile warned the claimants' lawyers to draw up sensible estimates of costs after hearing that $16m had so far been incurred in individual cases.

He added that it was "unbelievable" that 55 different firms of solicitors were representing 100 claimants.