News International starts to compensate phone hacking victims
While it has been well-documented that crime doesn’t pay, it suddenly appears that acknowledgement of possible illegalities certainly does. News International has announced that 18 phone hacking settlements have been agreed following the controversy surrounding the conduct of former red-top newspaper, News of the World.
Over the past few months, a number of claimants have filed charges against high-ranking figures and directors at News Group Newspapers Ltd, alleging that the publishers of the News of the World were well aware of the invasive and illicit practices of their journalists, implicating them in the deliberate destruction of evidence and the obstruction of justice.
The investigations of the Leveson Inquiry have revealed several telling details, painting a picture of law-breaking journalists, indulgent editors and broken codes of conduct. Few doubt that NGN are in the wrong; the question that remains is: just how wrong were they? Investigators are now focusing on the scope of criminality and exploring how far-reaching the transgressions were. Further revelations of misconduct are expected, particularly as the settlements include a promise from NGN to further its search of its archives for any more malpractices and violations. NGN has not, however, admitted to any wrongdoing, agreeing to the assessment of compensation on the very same basis.
Settlements are expected to exceed the range of payments that typically results from the misuse of information. Furthermore, observers believe the compensations offered by NGN will favour future claimants, as the information revealed by the settlements is said to have outlined a consistent culture and pattern of behaviour at News of the World regarding the illegal extraction of information.
As of today, victims whose claims are to be settled include John Prescott, Chris Bryant and Jude Law.
Details of the 18 settlements
Chris Bryant (MP) – £30,000 plus costs
Ashley Cole (footballer) – unknown
Sadie Frost (designer) – £50,000 plus costs
Lisa Gower (former partner of Steve Coogan) – £30,000 plus costs
HJK (anonymous member of the public) – £60,000 plus costs
Joan Hammell (former aide to John Prescott) – £40,000 plus costs
Gavin Henson (rugby player) – £40,000 plus costs
Ben Jackson (assistant to Jude Law) – £40,000 plus costs
Jude Law (actor) – £130,000 plus costs
Denis MacShane (MP) – £32,500 plus costs
Ciara Parkes (PR to Jude Law) – £35,000 plus costs
Guy Pelly (friend of Prince Harry’s) – £40,000 plus costs
John Prescott (former deputy prime minister) – £40,000 plus costs
Tom Rowland (journalist) – £25,000 plus costs
Graham Shear (footballers’ lawyer) – £25,000 plus costs
Christopher Shipman (son of Harold Shipman) – “substantial damages” plus costs
Joan Smith (former partner of Denis Mac Shane) – £27,500 plus costs
Claire Ward (former MP) – “substantial damages” plus costs.