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Church wins £600,000 hacking claim

Charlotte Church and her parents have settled their phone-hacking claims for £600,000 with up to 200 fresh claims on the horizon.

As the singer told reporters of her disgust at the behaviour of News of the World publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN), Mr Justice Vos was setting a timetable for the High Court to deal with the next wave of the litigation by this time next year.

Miss Church, 26, sat in the packed London courtroom as her lawyer told the judge that the now-defunct newspaper targeted her and her voicemail messages repeatedly, and unlawfully obtained her private medical information and details of her personal relationships with her family and friends.

Solicitor Mike Brookes said it began in 2002 when Charlotte was just 16 and continued for many years.

"Charlotte was also regularly harassed and even placed under surveillance by the News of the World and those paid by them. They followed the every move of a teenage girl."

He said that James and Maria Church were not in the public eye, but their own privacy has been violated on a number of occasions. He added: "The motivation for this intrusion into the lives of two essentially private and ordinary individuals was to make money."

Michael Silverleaf QC, for NGN, said: "I am here today to offer my client's sincere apologies to the Church family for the way they have been treated. NGN acknowledges that they should never have had to endure what they have suffered and that NGN are liable for the damage that they have caused."

The settlement of Miss Church's case means that 55 of the original 60 claims launched before October last year have been resolved. The remaining five are those of footballer Ryan Giggs, former royal butler Paul Burrell, police officer and Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames - and her husband David Cook, public relations consultant Nicola Phillips and Elle Macpherson's former adviser, Mary Ellen Field - whose case will be tried in July.

Earlier this month, the court was told that a second wave of 56 new claims was in the pipeline - including those of singer James Blunt, footballer Peter Crouch and his wife Abigail Clancy, politician Nigel Farage, footballer Kieron Dyer and ex-wife of golfer Colin Montgomerie, Eimear Cook. NGN is also facing a claim from Cherie Blair after lawyers for the wife of former prime minister Tony Blair confirmed they had issued proceedings on her behalf.

Acknowledging that the situation was changing "from minute to minute", Hugh Tomlinson QC said 14 new cases had been issued and 180 individuals had approached solicitors and were considering claims. Metropolitan Police figures showed that there were 829 potential victims, of whom 231 were said to be uncontactable.


From Belfast Telegraph