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News International facing more than 60 phone hacking lawsuits

By
News Of The World paper

© Rex Features

News International is facing more than 60 lawsuits over alleged phone hacking at the News of the World, including a new claim from the father of Josie Russell, who survived a hammer attack that killed her mother and sister in 1996.

The Guardian reports that 13 new legal writs were issued to Rupert Murdoch's newspaper publisher on Monday, including the action from Shaun Russell, while 24 were submitted the previous week.

This includes claims from Sara Payne, whose Sarah's Law campaign was championed by the News of the World, and Paul Dadge, the hero who helped victims in the 7/7 London bombings.

The publisher is now facing a total of 63 writs, and the recent flurry of new cases is thought to be down to a deadline set by Justice Vos for considering claims ahead of phone hacking test trials in January.

Various high profile names are among the 63 cases, including Dannii Minogue, Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell, Steve Coogan, John Prescott, George Galloway, Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Calum Best, Ashley Cole and former Downing Street communications chief Alistair Campbell.

Some of the writs involve more than one person, such as a joint action by Charlotte Church, her mother Maria, and stepfather James.

The majority of the lawsuits are against News International subsidiary News Group Newspapers, and Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked on behalf of the News of the World.

However, an action by singer Cornelia Crisan also names the former News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck as a defendant in her claim.

Thurlbeck was arrested and bailed in April in the police investigation into phone hacking, but he has not been charged with any offence.

Last week, he pulled out of a planned industrial tribunal against News International over alleged unfair dismissal, but said that "the truth will out" in the case.

Mark Lewis, one of the lawyers acting on behalf of the phone hacking victims, said that just 5% of Mulcaire's victims have so far been notified, and the scandal could go much further into the newspaper industry.

"He was just one agent used by one paper," he told Bloomberg News. "When the final tally takes place, we will see thousands of claims and more than one paper."

Lewis also said that Rupert Murdoch's £20 million contingency fund to deal with the hacking claims was not looking sufficient enough, and even added that claims it will take £100m to clear the cases seem "a serious underestimate".

News International has already offered to pay one of Lewis's clients, the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, a £3m settlement, breaking down as a £2m payment and £1m charity donation.

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