The Times story shed significant further light on the matter revealing that a compensation fund of up to £15m is being offered in to the High Court to offer ‘fair resolution’of outstanding civil claims arising from voicemail interception.
Some 24 individuals are currently involved in civil legal action against the News of the World over claims their voicemail messages were intercepted by journalists working for the paper.
Mr Justice Vos, the judge hearing those claims, had asked for proposals to speed up the complex litigation process and News International’s apology and compensation scheme is in response to that request.
The NoW has apologised to eight individuals: Sienna Miller, Kelly Hoppen, Nicola Phillips, Sky Andrew, Tessa Jowell and her husband David Mills, Andy Gray and Joan Hammel (a former aide to John Prescott).
According to The Times there are now 50 detectives working on the criminal side of the phone-hack inquiry. Last week NoW chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former assistant editor (news) Ian Edmondson were arrested and questioned by police.
Yesterday the News of the World repeated Friday’s News International statement on page two, including the crucial admission: ‘It is now apparent that our previous inquiries failed to uncover important evidence and we acknowledge our actions were not sufficiently robust.”
The News of the World apology further stated: ‘In 2007, a News of the World journalist and a private investigator working for the paper were jailed for accessing voicemail messages between 2004 and 2006.
‘Since then, a number of individuals have brought breach of privacy claims against the News of the World over wrongful voicemail interception during that period, and others are threatening claims.
‘Evidence has recently come to light which supports some of these claims. We have written to relevant individuals to admit liability in these civil cases and to apologise unreservedly, and will do the same to any other individuals where evidence shows their claims to be justifiable.
‘We hope to be able to pay appropriate compensation to all these individuals, and have asked our lawyers to set up a compensation scheme to deal with genuine claims fairly and efficiently.
‘Here today, we publicly and unreservedly apologise to all such individuals. What happened to them should not have happened. It was and remains unacceptable.”