37 NotW hacking claims settled
Actor Jude Law heads a list of 37 people from all walks of life who have settled their damages cases arising from the phone-hacking scandal.
The star's compensation of £130,000 was the biggest of 15 awards disclosed at London's High Court as Mr Justice Vos listened to 18 agreed statements being read out to a packed courtroom.
Three of the damages awards - including that made to footballer Ashley Cole - were not made public, but the tally, excluding those, reached a total of £645,000.
In each case, Michael Silverleaf QC, for News International subsidiary News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of the defunct News of the World, expressed its "sincere apologies" for the damage and distress caused. The developments mean that the majority of the 60 claims launched against NGN have been settled, with the company facing a bill for damages and costs running into millions.
It is expected that more statements will follow - but a hearing is set for February 13 to deal with 10 as yet unsettled cases, including that of singer Charlotte Church, and provide a compensation framework for cases that do not settle as well as any yet to be brought. Mr Justice Vos, who will try the case, has described it as one "of great public importance".
Gavin Millar QC, for private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, emphasised that Mulcaire, who is also being sued for breach of confidence and misuse of private information, was not involved in agreeing the wording of the statements and was not a party to them.
Reading a statement on Law's behalf, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said the effect of the "sustained campaign of surveillance, pursuit and harassment", as well as the publication of intrusive and private information had been "profound", while Law himself later hit out at the "appalling" behaviour of the newspaper.
Lord Prescott told the Hull Daily Mail: "Today's court decision at long last brings clarity, apology and compensation for the years of hacking into my telephone messages by Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers."
After it was announced that the case brought by Sara Payne, mother of murdered Sarah Payne, had settled, her friend Shy Keenan said she was "sincerely glad" it was all over and wanted to concentrate on her stroke recovery and on building a free public service information website for those victimised by paedophile crimes.
In a statement, News International said: "Today NGN agreed settlements in respect of a number of claims against the company. NGN made no admission as part of these settlements that directors or senior employees knew about the wrongdoing by NGN or sought to conceal it."