Murdoch-owned newspaper apologizes for hacking into phone of actress
LONDON — Britain’s News of the World tabloid apologised in court Tuesday for hacking into the mobile phone messages of actress Sienna Miller and agreed to pay her £100,000 ($165,000, 110,000 euros) in damages and legal costs.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper said sorry at London’s High Court for illegally accessing the 29-year-old’s messages after admitting liability at a hearing last month, in the latest twist in a long-running scandal.
Michael Silverleaf, the lawyer for News Group Newspapers, the publisher of Britain’s biggest-selling weekly, offered the group’s “sincere apologies” to the actress.
It came two months after the paper printed an apology for phone-hacking in a controversy that has engulfed a string of high-profile figures and in 2007 led to the jailing of one of a journalist and a private investigator.
At Tuesday’s hearing, which Miller did not attend, her lawyer David Sherborne said numerous articles were printed about the actress that contained “intrusive and private information”.
He said News Group Newspapers had accepted that “confidential and private information had been obtained by the unlawful access of the claimant’s voicemail messages.”
Miller was granted an injunction to prevent further unlawful accessing of her voicemail or publication of private information.
The paper has set up a compensation fund, reportedly worth about £20 million, to pay phone-hacking victims.
The payout to Miller is the tabloid’s latest attempt to draw a line under a scandal that has dogged it for years and been a source of embarrassment for Australian media mogul Murdoch.
Police were forced to reopen an investigation in January following a stream of fresh allegations, and have arrested several journalists from the newspaper in recent months.
In 2007, the initial probe led to the jailing of royal correspondent Clive Goodman and a private investigator for hacking into the mobile phone messages of Princes William and Harry.
The controversy led in January to the resignation of Andy Coulson, Prime Minister David Cameron’s head of communications, who was the tabloid’s editor when the scandal first broke.
He had quit as editor in 2007 but denied any knowledge of phone-hacking. When he left Cameron’s office, he continued to deny wrongdoing but said the ongoing scandal was distracting him from his job.