'115 individuals asking phone-hacking questions of the News of the World'

The Independent today reveals the possible extent of the deluge of litigation facing News International over phone-hacking.

It reports that 70 high-profile individuals have asked the Met Police to hand over any evidence suggesting their phones may have been hacked found during its investigation into News of the World investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

And it states that some 45 have launched, or are intending to launch, actions for breach of privacy against the News of the World.

Many of these individuals may just be trying their luck, because it costs them nothing to ask the question – and the potential rewards are a hefty settlement. But it is difficult to see how phone-hacking is not going to become very expensive indeed for News International (taking into account the huge legal fees of lawyers working on no win, no fee deals).

Meanwhile more evidence emerged last week, during football agent Sky Andrew’s breach of privacy action against the News of the World, that more journalists than previously admitted may have been party to phone-hacking at the paper.

The Guardian reports written evidence from Friday which was read out in court. It states the response given by Mulcaire to the question  of who he gave email transcripts to:

Reading out Mulcaire’s evidence, a lawyer reportedly said: “Information was supplied to the newsdesk of the News of the World. This was manned by different people, [Mulcaire] cannot now recall who in respect of this claim he passed the information to.”

Information was supplied to the news desk of the News of the World. This was manned by different people, [Mulcaire] cannot now recall who in respect of this claim he passed the information to.”

Former Observer editor Donald Trelford, writing in the Independent today, suggests that phone-hacking has been over-blown as a story: “Evidence is the key word, and the press should wait for that. The fact that a celebrity thinks he or she may have been hacked isn’t evidence. The fact that Mulcaire gave information to the paper’s news desk is not evidence that many people must have had guilty knowledge of his phone-hacking – a straw at which the Guardian and The Independent have been grasping rather desperately in recent days.”

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