The number of lawsuits against News International over News of the World phone hacking continues to mount, with more than 40 new claims filed by individuals including Sarah Ferguson, former footballer Tony Adams and Joanne Lees, whose boyfriend Peter Falconio was murdered in Australia.
Others filing claims for News of the World phone hacking damages ahead of Friday’s deadline for new civil actions set by the high court judge presiding over the process include former Labour cabinet minister Geoffrey Robinson, Uri Geller, and ex EastEnders actors Leslie Grantham and Tamzin Outhwaite.
They have been joined by former Boyzone singer Keith Duffy, Joe Royle, ex manager of Everton and Manchester City, and Tony Woodley, formerly joint general secretary of the Unite trade Union.
Friday’s new claims bring the total number of fresh civil cases against News International since it paid out to 58 victims earlier in the year to 121. More claims are expected to be lodged at the high court in London on Friday but will not be made public by court documents until Monday.
Hugh Tomlinson, QC, representing phone-hacking victims, told a high court case management conference earlier this month that in addition, 124 phone-hacking claims have been accepted into the News International compensation fund. He said he believed the total number of new claims will be “somewhere under 300”.
Ferguson, Prince Andrew’s ex wife, former England and Arsenal captain Adams, are among the most high profile of the latest batch of alleged News of the World phone hacking victims.
Lees, who had a difficult relationship with the press after her boyfriend Falconio was murdered while they were travelling in the Australian outback in 2001, is one of a number of victims of crimes that the paper allegedly targeted.
Hugh Grant and Charlotte Church’s priest, Father Reardon, are among 13 other claimants who have filed lawsuits this week. Others who have filed damages claims in the last week include TV presenter Chris Tarrant, ex Oasis manager Alan McGee, former EastEnders star Sid Owen, actor Darren Day, and the Labour party’s regional organiser for London, Hilary Perrin.
A further 68 claims were filed by the beginning of September from individuals including Cherie Blair, footballer Wayne Rooney, Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell, David Beckham’s father Ted, John Major’s former daughter in law Emma Noble and a witness in the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial, Lily Colvin.
In January and February this year, News International settled 58 News of the World phone hacking cases out of court. Those who received damages included celebrities such as Jude Law and Sienna Miller, and crime victims Sara Payne, the mother of murdered school girl Sarah Payne, and Shaun Russell, whose wife and daughter were killed in a hammer attack in a country lane.
Mr Justice Vos, the high court judge overseeing the new round of civil actions, had originally pencilled in February as the date for these cases to go to trial, but this has now been put back to some time after May because of a potential clash with criminal proceedings involving former News International executives, including Rebekah Brooks, who was chief executive and Andy Coulson, who was the editor of the News of the World.