Rhys Ifans among six new hacking claims, News Int to fight up to ten Elveden civil claims

Actor Rhys Ifans and television presenter Cilla Black have launched phone-hacking damages claims, it emerged today.

News of their legal actions came during the 16th case management conference at the High Court in London relating to claims against News Group Newspapers.

Two judges heard that since the last hearing in March six new claims had been issued and six others have settled.

Details of the settled cases have yet to be confirmed.

Big Brother former winner Anthony Hutton is among the six newly launched claims.

Cilla Black's son Robert Willis has also launched a claim.

During the hearing, Dinah Rose QC, for NGN, told Mr Justice Vos and Mr Justice Mann that more than 95 per cent of cases had been settled.

She said the group had acted in accordance with its "expressed intention" to pay fair and generous compensation to anyone whose phone had been hacked, "and that is why the overwhelming majority of the claims have been settled".

But she added that this was not NGN's position in relation to "so-called Elveden claims".

The court heard from Hugh Tomlinson QC, who represents the claimant group in the litigation, that "what have been called Operation Elveden claims" were "claims which involve an allegation of corrupt payment by journalists to public officials".

He said "there is only one issued claim in this category", but added that "there are a number of claims in the pipeline", and it was his understanding that there were between five and 10.

Miss Rose told the court that the Elveden claims were not considered to be "meritorious".

The QC said: "It is our intention to resist them. We will not be making offers of compensation."

She told the judges that "unfortunately one does have a situation where there are a number of legal firms who have done very well indeed out of this litigation", and that there may be "a certain amount of ambulance-chasing going on".

Miss Rose said: "We will firmly resist any claim we do not consider to be meritorious and will not pay any compensation."

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