Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

How hacks silenced Charlotte

Charlotte Church

She's toughed it out living most of her life in the public eye, and usually shown herself to be a grounded, smart and feisty individual.

But this week Charlotte Church was robbed of what could have been her finest hour - taking on the might of the Murdochs in the courtroom battle she hoped would expose the full brutality of the News International machine.

While scores of celebrities accepted private financial settlements which kept the degree of NI's phone-hacking tactics nicely under wraps, Church emerged as the only one with the mettle to take her case all the way.

She wasn't willing to be paid off to keep quiet, she said, because of the particularly unpleasant way the News of the World had targeted her mother at a time when she was dangerously vulnerable.

Church said this week the paper 'totally dehumanised' her family, with relentless stories about the infidelity of Maria Church's husband contributing to her ensuing suicide attempt.

Church was looking forward to the fight. But on discovering during pre-trial discussions that the organisation's approach was to 'go after my mother', she finally decided the 'collateral damage' of pursuing the case just wasn't worth the psychological damage it would cause.

So she too has finally been cowed into silently accepting a settlement. She'll feel sick. But her exposition of the strategy lawyers were planning for the court case has made an important point - whatever they may claim about their fresh start, News International is as ruthless as it ever was.

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