News International, the British wing of Murdoch empire News Corp, has finally admitted to being in the know about the extent to which phone hacking and other illegal activities were carried on by its journalists, and deliberately tried to destroy evidence, attorneys for the victims said, the Daily Mail reported.
The company has also reached settlements with the 36 claimants who brought lawsuits against now-defunct tabloid News of the World. In total, 60 claimants have sued the company, lawyers said in court on Thursday.
The 12 solicitors’ firms involved, who had decided to work together to uncover evidence, say the documents they’ve uncovered has effectively put paid to News Corp’s “rogue reporter” position (the theory that the hacking was the work of a few bad eggs in the organisation, working without the knowledge of the upper echelons).
News International said it would not comment on the statement.
Among those who have been compensated are actor Jude Law, who received £130,000 ($200,000), his ex-wife Sadie Frost (£50,000, or $77,000), and Members of Parliament Chris Bryant (£30,000, or $46,000), Lord Prescott (£40,000, or $61,000), and Dennis MacShane (£32,500, or $50,000), according to the BBC.
The company has set aside between £15 million and £20 million to cover phone-hacking civil litigation claims, The Wall Street Journal reported.
As part of the settlement, the company also agreed to provide more details on the phone hacking, Bloomberg reported. Consequently, new claims can be brought if and when more wrongdoing emerges in the future, lawyers said. The current trial, scheduled to begin February 13, will also continue in order to give guidance on damages for current and future lawsuits and out-of-court settlements.