British Media Group Compensates 37 More In Phone Hacking

Posted January 19th, 2012 at 8:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Rupert Murdoch's media empire has agreed to pay large payouts to 37 phone-hacking victims, including British actor Jude Law, football player Ashley Cole and former deputy prime minister John Prescott.

The High Court in London heard details of new settlements totaling about $1 million for illegal eavesdropping by Murdoch-owned tabloids on celebrities' phone conversations. The scandal prompted Murdoch to shut the 168-year-old News of the World weekly tabloid last July.

Lawyers for the victims said the damages paid to their clients are admission of the scale of the illegal practice. Lawyers for the media group apologized for the intrusions, but denied that the management knew about them or tried to cover them up.

In a statement issued after the hearing, Law said he launched his case to find out the truth about the intrusion into his private life between 2003 and 2006. He said he changed his phones and had his house checked for bugs, but that the information continued to appear in the press.

Law's former wife Sadie Frost received more than $77,000 in compensation. Similar payouts were given to Prescott, who served as deputy to former British prime minister Tony Blair and to rugby player Gavin Henson.

Murdoch's company has set up a multi-million-dollar compensation fund for victims of phone-hacking in a bid to avoid further costly civil lawsuits. Several victims already werec ompensated last year and new cases are set to go to court next month.