NoW says £100k phone-hack offer is generous

Sienna Miller’s claim in the News of the World phone-hacking case should be stopped in its tracks, the High Court has heard.

Michael Silverleaf QC said today that News Group admitted liability unconditionally for all the wrongs alleged by the actress in her privacy and harassment actions.

He told Mr Justice Vos it accepted responsibility for compensating Ms Miller and its £100,000 offer was “substantially in excess” of what she could win through the courts.

The offer also included injunctive relief and costs.

Counsel said it was “inconceivable” a court would assess compensatory damages at more than £30,000, as this would be out of line with the legal authorities on privacy, personal injury and police misconduct, and would “offend public reason”.

Silverleaf said the judge should “stay” the case as to continue would be an abuse of process because Ms Miller had her remedy and the civil litigation process did not exist “for people to vent their feelings in public”.

He said that Miller’s complaints largely related to 10 or 11 articles about her on-off relationship with Jude Law.

It would be wrong to compensate for injury to her feelings on the basis of each instance or so that she won more than if she had lost an eye or suffered severe facial scarring.

“However you approach it, you arrive at a figure that is less than £100,000, and we have offered that, so that should be the end of the case.”

Miller’s counsel, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said she was not proceeding with the case “on the basis that we have suddenly seen millions of pounds before our eyes and become very greedy”.

She wanted disclosure from the newspaper so she could know the precise extent of the wrongdoing and be properly compensated in the light of those circumstances.

Tomlinson said Silverleaf had referred to damages cases relating to single incidents or publications.

“What is complained of here is a course of conduct, a series of different publications, different accesses over 12 months.”

He added: “If they were a TV company and Ofcom was dealing with this conduct, they would be very lucky to get away with £400,000.”

Miller’s claim has been expected to be one of four test cases to be tried at the end of this year – the others being those of interior designer Kelly Hoppen, commentator Andy Gray and sports agent Sky Andrew.

There have been a series of rulings recently over disclosure of information by the Metropolitan Police and Vodafone relating to material forfeited by private detective Glenn Mulcaire who, with News of the World reporter Clive Goodman, was jailed over royal phone taps in 2007.

The applications have been made by a number of alleged victims – including Miller, Law, footballer Paul Gascoigne, comedian Steve Coogan and former MP George Galloway.

Eight claimants in the litigation, including Miller and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, have received apologies from the newspaper, and News International has written to another nine asking for further evidence that their voicemails had been intercepted so a decision can be made on whether they too are entitled to an apology and compensation.

The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow for further argument.

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