The Duchess of York is one of 17 individuals who demanded a public apology from News International.
Note: This article is from the Guardian.
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is among 144 people who have won substantial damages after settling their phone-hacking claims against the News of the World, the high court has heard.
Ferguson is one of 17 individuals who demanded an public apology from the now defunct tabloid’s publisher, News International, at the high court in London on Friday morning.
Others who had statements read out in open court after receiving damages include Hugh Grant and Geoffrey Robinson, the Labour MP.
Damages have also been awarded to singer James Blunt; Jade Goody’s ex-boyfriend Jeff Brazier; former Doctor Who actor Christopher Eccleston; and fork-bender Uri Geller, who is believed to have been targeted because of his friendship with Michael Jackson.
June Sarpong, the TV presenter, and Chris Terrill, the BBC film-maker who had a relationship with Heather Mills, also accepted damages for invasion of privacy by the tabloid.
Actor and former Atomic Kitten singer Kerry Katona and Colin Stagg, who was wrongly accused of the murder of Rachel Nickell have also won damages. Stagg is one of the few whose damages were revealed – he was awarded £15,500.
Edwina Pitman, a freelance journalist who worked in a Mayfair gallery frequented by Jeffrey Archer, was also awarded substantial damages, as was Richard Reardon, Charlotte Church’s parish priest.
Others include two journalists, Hannah Cleaver and Edward Hynds, and Hillary Perrin, the director of regional organisation of the Labour party.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, for the phone-hacking victims, told Mr Justice Vos that 144 out of 169 cases had settled out of court.
However, he said that 26 cases remained on the books including six new cases but that “we … anticipate that the number will be greatly reduced in the next few weeks.” He said seven of these “appeared to be definitely going to trial”.
Tomlinson said that he expected more cases to come through the high court after News International’s decision to close its private compensation scheme in April.
He said he expected “more than 10 but less than 100” new cases.
Ferguson: unusual activity
Ferguson, who was married to Prince Andrew from 1986 to 1996, noticed unusual activity on her phone between 2000 and 2006. “The claimant also noticed that journalists and/or photographers appeared to know her location in advance meaning that when she arrived at functions or planned events, it was often that journalists or photographers were already present,” the court heard.
Lawyers for News International told Vos that it now accepts that “they targeted the claimant and the voicemail messages left on the claimant’s mobile phone were intercepted for the News of the World over a considerable period of time.” The company offered “its sincere apologies for the damage and distress caused”.
Pitman was not a friend of Archer, but became a target of the News of the World because of their interest in him and put her under surveillance and hacked her phone. “Not only had the claimant’s voicemail messages been access and listened to by or on behalf of the first defendant but recordings had been made of them,” said her solicitor, Chris Hutchings, at the high court.
Grant: ‘shocked and distressed’
The court heard that Hugh Grant was targeted “at various times from about 2004 until the closure of News of the World” in 2011. His voicemail was intercepted because of his leading roles in movies, but also because of his “well-known relationships and friendships with various high-profile women”.
Grant said he was unable to understand how details about his private life came to be published and he was contacted by Operation Weeting police in 2011 and told his name and other information appeared in documents seized in 2006 in relation to a News of the World phone-hacking case.
The court heard Grant was “shocked and distressed to discover considerable evidence that indicated that he was targeted” and that he had been placed under surveillance.
Grant was also “particularly distressed to learn that he had wrongly mistrusted and avoided friends and acquaintances in the past” because of the phone hacking.
He accepted a public apology from News International and said he would be donating his settlement money to Hacked Off, the lobby group campaigning for tough reforms of press regulation.
Brazier: ‘hacking created distrust’
Brazier, who had two children with reality TV star Goody, who died in 2009, was targeted from 2002, the court heard. He was contacted by the police in late 2011 and found that a number of details about his private life appeared in a file prepared for the News of the World on both himself and Goody.
The high court was told private details were in an address book of a journalist at the News of the World including a temporary address that he had only stayed at between house moves. The address of a shop that Brazier had visited only once or twice was also in the address book.
Brazier’s statement said that the “unlawful activities” by News of the World had caused distrust between him and Goody and led to arguments during their relationship. “The claimant is very distressed that he can now never apologise to Ms Goody for the times that he did not believe her despite her denials that she was the source of particular private information in the public domain,” it added.
Church’s priest: relationship ‘violated’
Charlotte Church’s parish priest Richard Reardon was targeted because of his close links to the singer and her family. The court heard he “often spoke to them about their personal troubles as they felt comfortable talking to him” and felt the “sacrosanct relationship between a parish priest and a parishioner has been violated”.
She and her family have already received a £600,000 payout from News International including legal costs.
Geoffrey Robinson, the former paymaster general and former owner of the New Statesman, said he was upset that voicemails containing highly sensitive political information could have been hacked by the News of the World.
June Sarpong, the TV and radio presenter, was the subject of hacking and “blagging” by the tabloid. She believes the paper was interested in her private life and her interviews with high-profile individuals including Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. She was told her voicemail security number had been reset.
Chris Terrill, who was engaged to Heather Mills before she got involved in a relationship with Sir Paul McCartney, was the subject of hacking and “blagging”.
A statement read out in court said he “experienced suspicious telephone activity” during 2005 and 2006 and frequently experienced paparazzi and journalists “turning up where he was without any idea as to how they knew he was there”.
Eccleston: ‘deeply angry and upset’
Eccleston said he was “shocked and distressed” to be told by police his voicemail had been hacked repeatedly on 16 separate occasions.
One example of an article that arose from hacking concerned an “entirely private holiday” he took at a remote cottage in Cornwall.
The former Doctor Who actor said he was “deeply angry and upset” that “owing to the deliberate destruction of documents by the News of the World, he will never find out the true extent to which his privacy and that of those close to him, was invaded”.
Geller was in court, to hear a joint statement read out including a public apology from News International accepted damages and costs.
The court was told that Hynds, an investigative journalist, was targeted because of his relationship with Colin Stagg, who he had worked with over 19 years and won “substantial costs”.
Stagg remained of interest to the media even after his acquittal and refused to speak to anyone in the media except through Hynds, who also wrote a book about his case.
News International initially defended Hynd’s claim arguing it had no merit but now accepts that the journalist was of interest to the News of the World in at least 2002.
The court heard that Stagg had two mobile phones but rarely answered them because he preferred to screen them by using his voicemail first. Many of the calls were from Hynds and contained outlines of stories the pair were preparing.
When contacted by Operation Weeting officers, it emerged that private details including his name, address, date of birth and mobile phone number and private medical details were included in notes the police had in 2006.
Katona: ‘deeply personal and private details’
Singer Katona, whose private life regularly featured in the News of the World, was the subject of hacking and “blagging” by the paper, the court was told.
“She was considered to be newsworthy and of interest because of her personal relationships, including in particular, her marriage to another well-known singer, Brian McFadden,” the court heard.
A number of articles appeared in the paper that contained “deeply personal and private details including about her pregnancy, her children’s health, her childcare and custody arrangements, her family relationships, her personal relationships and her financial affairs.”
This, the court heard, had led her to distrust her friends and family who she suspected to leaking information to the paper. She has won substantial damages and legal costs.
The partner of Lord Prescott’s chief of staff also accepted damages on Friday. Merul Shayur Mehta, who lives with Joan Hammell, was the target of hacking and blagging, the court heard. He accepted “substantial damages” from the paper as did Hilary Perrin, who was the director of regional organisation of the Labour party. Perrin was “particularly disturbed” to find that News of the World had put a private investigator on a surveillance operation on her for several months.
News International is still facing 26 damages claims, which were listed in court as those taken by the former nanny Louise Woodward; boxer Chris Eubank; Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell; former police officer and Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames; her husband David Cook; and Jane Winter, who worked at a northern Irish charity, British Irish Rights Watch.
TV and entertainment PR Ian Johnson, who represents clients including Nesbitt, has also not settled his claim. Nor has Tara Palmer-Tompkinson; EastEnders actor Jessie Wallace; the executors of Goody’s estate; Brian Harvey, the former boyfriend of Kerry Katona; and Tony Woodley, a union executive.
Six new cases were also confirmed at the high court on Friday, by former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan, Nigel Lythgoe, the TV producer behind American Idol.
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