Celebrities settle phone hacking claims
LONDON — Former footballer Paul Gascoigne and comic actor Steve Coogan were among high-profile British figures paid damages Wednesday by Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper group over phone hacking.
Coogan settled his claim for £40,000 ($63,000, 48,000 euros), while Ex-England star Gascoigne received £68,000, judge Geoffrey Vos was told at a High Court hearing in London.
Others who settled included Alastair Campbell, former prime minister Tony Blair’s media chief, and outspoken politician George Galloway, who received £25,000.
Details of the 15 settlements came at a pre-trial review ahead of a February 13 hearing.
It follows last month’s settlement of 37 claims against News International subsidiary News Group Newspapers, publisher of the now defunct News of the World tabloid.
Some 60 cases were launched against NGN.
The 15 settlements in this wave also included football agents, a friend of former Home Secretary David Blunkett, a friend of Gascoigne, and Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.
The outstanding cases include footballer Ryan Giggs, singer Charlotte Church and former royal butler Paul Burrell.
The High Court heard that former Newcastle, Tottenham, Rangers and Lazio star Gascoigne suffered “mental harm and distress” after his phone messages were hacked by News of the World.
“Mr Gascoigne was worried that the information was being obtained by bugging or tapping his telephone conversations, as a result of which he was accused of being paranoid,” said a statement from his lawyer.
“In addition, Mr Gascoigne was worried that the information was being given to the News of the World by his friends of family, as a result of which he fell out with several of his friends and family.”
Coogan, speaking outside the High Court, said: “I am pleased that after two years of argument and denials, News International has finally agreed to settle my case against it for hacking my voicemails.
“It has been a very stressful and time-consuming experience.
“This has never been about money. Like other people who sued, I was determined to do my part to show the depths to which the press can sink in pursuit of private information.”