Publisher Trinity Mirror sets aside millions for phone hacking allegations
Publisher Trinity Mirror has set aside £4m to deal with civil claims over phone hacking allegations, the group disclosed in its half-year results.
It is the first time that the company, which is now facing 17 claims, has set out a specific sum for these matters.
The £4m adds to an amount understood to be in the "low single digit" millions that has already been put aside.
Trinity Mirror has previously acknowledged the ongoing impact of "historical legal issues", including direct financial impact from legal claims, damage to reputation and distraction to senior management.
The latest disclosure came as the group said it had performed better than expected in the half-year to June 29 and was on course to pay a dividend for 2014, the first for shareholders since 2008.
In a legal update, Trinity said it continued to co-operate with police over Operation Elveden – the probe into alleged inappropriate payments to public officials - and Operation Golding – the investigation into alleged phone hacking.
It added: "The group is aware of a number of civil claims from individuals in relation to phone hacking. In the first half we have provided £4m to cover the cost of dealing with and resolving claims.
"It remains uncertain as to how these matters will progress, whether further allegations or claims will be made, and their financial impact."
Last week, reporter Dan Evans was given a suspended jail term after pleading guilty to two charges of conspiring to hack phones. One charge related to his time at the Sunday Mirror between 2003 and 2005, the other to his subsequent employment from 2004 to 2010 at the News of the World.
In the interim results, Trinity said adjusted profit before tax fell 2.2% to £48.2m as it increased investment and absorbed an increase in newsprint prices.
The company said print revenues declined by 4.3%, a lower drop than the 6.7% fall in the previous year.
The Daily Mirror saw a 7.4% drop in copies shifted, better than the average for the UK national daily tabloid market, but declines for the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People were below trend following cover price increases, Trinity said.
The market for regional titles remained "difficult", it added, with paid-for dailies down 13.4%.
But digital revenues increased by 47.5% year on year driven as online outlets saw average monthly unique users increase 91% to 61.3m.
Trinity also recorded a £27.5m gain for its share in the disposal of MeteoGroup by the Press Association.
Chief executive Simon Fox said: "The group continues to make good progress with the delivery of our strategic initiatives as clearly demonstrated in the performance for the first half of 2014.
"This momentum gives the board confidence that our performance for the year will be marginally ahead of expectations.
"The strengthened financial position of the business together with continued strong cashflows also support the board's intention to reinstate dividends at the end of this year. This will be the first dividend paid by the group since 2008."