Charlotte Church settles phone-hacking claim

Singer Charlotte Church has settled her phone-hacking claim against News of the World publisher News Group Newspapers, the High Court was told today.

The resolution of the action brought by 25-year-old Miss Church and her parents James and Maria came just days before it was due to be tried at London’s High Court.

Mr Justice Vos was due to consider the claim that 33 articles in the now defunct Sunday newspaper were the product of hacking into voicemails and had a negative impact on the family’s business and her mother’s health.

But during a hearing today on possible reporting restrictions on the trial, the judge was told that the case had settled. At least 50 claims against NGN have now been settled, including several which were originally due to heard with Church’s claim.

A hearing is still likely to take place on Monday next week at which details of the settlement might emerge. NGN is also believed to be facing a new claim from Cherie Blair.

Lawyers for the wife of former prime minister Tony Blair confirmed yesterday they have issued a claim on her behalf, understood to be against News Group Newspapers.

Graham Atkins, of Atkins Thomson, said: “I can confirm that we have issued a claim on behalf of Cherie Blair in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails. I will not be commenting any further at this time.”

In November, Blair’s former communications director Alastair Campbell told the Leveson Inquiry he had “no evidence” that journalists intercepted either Mrs Blair’s voicemails or those of her lifestyle consultant Carole Caplin, but queried the source of a number of articles about the former PM’s wife.

Coulson loses legal fees battle

Meanwhile, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson has been denied permission to appeal against a High Court decision that News Group Newspapers (NGN) does not have to pay his potential legal costs over the phone-hacking affair.

Coulson reportedly put his detached south London house on the market for £1.6 million after the original ruling in December in which Mr Justice Supperstone rejected his bid and ordered him to pay NGN’s costs.

His lawyers argued that a clause in his severance deal meant NGN should pay professional costs and expenses incurred by him “in defending allegations of criminal conduct” during his tenure as editor.

The decision to deny him permission to appeal appears to mean the end of the battle by Coulson, Prime Minister David Cameron’s former communications chief, to get News of the World publisher NGN to cover any fees.

Coulson resigned as Cameron’s communications director in January last year.

In July Coulson, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing, was arrested then bailed by officers from Operation Weeting, the Metropolitan Police investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World.

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