Steve Coogan phone-hack writ against News Int

Comedian Steven Coogan has become the latest celebrity to sue the News of the World over claims it illegally hacked into his mobile phone messages.

He follows on from former MP George Galloway who filed a writ at the High Court for breach of privacy in August.

The latest twist in the News of the World phone-hacking saga comes as the Crown Prosecution Service announced on Friday that there would be no new criminal charges.

Coogan claims the paper and investigator Glen Mulcaire intercepted his voicemail messages, and misused private information in grossly offensive actions.

Now he is demanding damages from publishers News Group Newspapers and Mulcaire.

He argues that Mulcaire carried out voicemail interception on an industrial scale, and that documents seized by police had the names, or partial names, of 4,332 people in whom he was interested.

Police told Coogan that he was targeted by Mulcaire, who had documents including his mobile phone number, account number, and his password, according to a High Court writ.

He claims Mulcaire was paid £105,000 a year for his services in 2005, as well as £12,300 in cash payments from the News of the World, and was contracted to provide research and information.

Mulcaire and Royal editor Clive Goodman pleaded guilty to phone hacking when they appeared at the Old Bailey in November 2006, admitting they had gained access to voicemail messages from three members of the Royal Household. Goodman was jailed for four months.

Mulcaire also admitting intercepting voicemails left for Max Clifford, soccer agent Skylet Andrews, Gordon Taylor, MP Simon Hughes, and supermodel Elle Macpherson.

News of the World editor Andy Coulson resigned the day that the two men were jailed, taking responsibility for the paper’s wrongful use of phone interception.

Coogan claims that his voicemails were intercepted between February 2005 and August 2006, but says he will not know the full extent of the interception, until he has disclosure from the paper, the Metropolitan Police, and the Information Commissioner.

He claims in the writ that journalists Neville Thurlbeck, Ross Hindley and Greg Miskiw targeted Gordon Taylor’s voicemail messages, along with Mulcaire, and that the paper settled Gordon Taylor’s claim for damages for around £700,000. The paper also settled Max Clifford’s damages claim for a reported £1 million.
Coogan is demanding aggravated and exemplary damages, saying the paper’s conduct was so grave as to merit condemnation by the court, and says the paper has not admitted receiving information from his voicemails, or apologised to him.

Coogan seeks injunctions banning the paper and Mulcaire from phone hacking or using information they have already gleaned, and an order forcing Mulcaire to disclose the names of those who instructed him to target Coogan, as well as other details, so that he can also sue those individuals.

He also seeks an order forcing News Group and Mulcaire to hand over all documents and materials containing information obtained from phone hacking, and an inquiry into damages or an account of profits, for misuse of private information and invasion of privacy.

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