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Soap stars settle phone-hacking claims against News of the World publisher

Two Coronation Street stars and a sports agent who has represented high-profile footballers such as David Beckham have settled phone-hacking damages actions, the High Court has heard.

Lawyers for actress Tina O’Brien, actor Ryan Thomas and agent Simon Bayliff told a judge in London today that they had settled claims against News Group Newspapers, publisher of the now-defunct News Of The World and The Sun.

Mr Justice Mann heard that O’Brien (pictured, right), who plays Sarah-Louise Platt in the ITV soap, and Thomas (pictured, left), who is best known for his role as Jason Grimshaw, had each accepted “substantial damages” in their actions for misuse of private information.

Bayliff, who has also represented sportsmen such as Michael Owen and Dwight Yorke, has also accepted a payment of damages, the court heard.

All three received a public apology on behalf of the publishers during today’s proceedings.

Claire Greaney, for 35-year-old O’Brien, told the judge that she and Thomas had a “high-profile relationship”, and “the two have a daughter together”.

She said: “The claimant claimed that because of her role in Coronation Street, her then relationship with Mr Thomas, as well as later relationships and friendships, including with a number of other high-profile individuals, she was an obvious person for the defendant to target.”

Hannah Kent, for Thomas, 34, who starred in the soap from 2000 to 2016, said: “In his action against the defendant, Mr Thomas alleged that he was targeted by the defendant for the sole purpose of finding out private information about him for publication.”

Laura Daly, representing Bayliff, said: “As a result of his role and close relationships with the clients that he represented, the claimant was privy to highly private and confidential information concerning their personal and commercial affairs.”

She said Bayliff had “identified 41 articles which were published by the defendant’s newspapers between 1998 and 2009 which contained personal and private information about his clients and which he alleged were suspicious”.

Daly told the judge: “[Bayliff] claimed that as a result of these publications, the claimant, his clients and his colleagues became paranoid and suspicious as to who might be the source of the private information that was being published by the defendant’s newspapers.

“As a consequence, the claimant was extremely angered and distressed.”

Mr Justice Mann heard that NGN had made no admission of liability in relation to any allegation by the claimants of voicemail interception “and/or other unlawful information gathering” at The Sun.

Counsel Ben Silverstone told the judge on behalf of NGN that it offered its apologies to the claimants for the distress caused by the invasion of privacy “by individuals working for or on behalf of the News Of The World”.

He added that NGN “acknowledges that such activity should never have taken place”, and that it had “no right” to intrude into the private life of the claimants “in this way”.

Duncan Lamont, of law firm Charles Russell Speechlys, which represents O’Brien and Thomas, said in a statement: “We are pleased that we could assist our clients in resolving their disputes with NGN and that the publisher has made a public apology to each of these clients.”

Picture: Reuters/Andrew Yates/Pool and The Co-op Group/Flickr

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