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Fifteen celebrities settle phone hacking claims against News Of The World

Actor Sean Bean and singer Sharleen Spiteri are amongst fifteen celebrities who are to receive "substantial damages" after last week settling claims against News Group Newspapers (NGN) over phone hacking at The News of the World.

Fifteen celebrities settle phone hacking claims against News Of The World
Ben Silverstone: “The defendant acknowledges that such activity should never have taken place.”

The group also includes actresses Julia and Nadia Sawalha and Michelle Collins, singer Dane Bowers, former Coronation Street actors Quintin Lawson and Richard Fleeshman, former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas, former journalist Louise Port, Natalie Cecil, and former television presenter Dani Behr.

Their statements were read in front of Mr Justice Fancourt, who was officiating over proceedings at London’s High Court.

David Sherborne, a lawyer speaking on behalf of Richard Fleeshman, told the court that from about 2006 the young actor experienced “strange activity” with his phones and his private information began to appear in NGN publications “without any apparent explanation.”

Sherborne told the court that Fleeshman “would become confused when he would go somewhere, either on his own or with close friends and family, only to find a photographer waiting there to take photographs.”

Fleeshman filed a claim against NGN in September 2019 “alleging the interception of his voicemail messages,” the court heard.

Sherborne said that the “private information” disclosed in NGN publications caused him to become “distrustful and suspicious of his family.” He claimed that his career was “seriously impacted” and “he reluctantly decided to leave Coronation Street in July 2006 due to intrusion into his private life.”

“The claimant further alleged that he turned down a number of other roles as he could not face the intrusion,” Sherborne added.

Sherborne was also representing Cricketer Shane Warne and told the court: “The claimant identified a number of articles he claimed contained his private and confidential information which were published by the defendant’s newspapers between 1999 and 2011.

“During this time the claimant used his voicemail extensively - particularly whilst playing cricket - and he would regularly receive and leave voicemail messages.”

Sherborne added that NGN had agreed to pay Warne substantial damages in relation to the “invasion of his privacy by individuals working for or on behalf of the News Of The World.”

Sean Bean’s solicitor, Elizabeth McClenan, said he had spotted articles publishing “private and confidential information” relating to him and consequently “became suspicious” as to the source.

She told the court that the “claimant has accepted the defendant’s offer to resolve this claim on terms confidential between the parties, but which involve the defendant agreeing to pay substantial damages to the claimant as well as his reasonable legal costs of bringing the claim.”

Spiteri’s solicitor Callum Galbraith told the court that she was an “obvious person for the press to target” and that the singer had spotted a handful of articles containing private information published between 1998 and 2009.

He said: “Articles published reported on matters relating to, for example, Ms Spiteri’s separation from her then long-term partner (a private matter which she claimed was not then known to her close family), her home, her whereabouts and the birth of her daughter.

“Ms Spiteri believes that the publication of the articles had a harmful effect on her private and family life and is appalled she will never regain control of her private information.”

Galbraith said that Spiteri “became suspicious” as to who was disclosing her private information, adding: “Ms Spiteri believes that the publication of the articles generated distrust which impacted on her relationships and this has caused her considerable distress, upset and anger.”

On behalf of NGN, Ben Silverstone said: “The defendant is here today, through me, to offer its sincere apologies to Ms Spiteri for the distress caused to her by the invasion of her privacy by individuals working for or on behalf of the News Of The World.

“The defendant acknowledges that such activity should never have taken place, and that it had no right to intrude into the private life of Ms Spiteri.”

Former EastEnders actress Michelle Collins was represented by Ben Hamer, who said that she had filed a lawsuit against NGN in September 2019 on the basis that 47 articles published between 1996 and 2010 “contained intrusive and personal information about her private life and relationships”.

Hamer told the court that the public disclosure of this information concerning Collins “had a damaging effect on her career and her private life, and that it caused lasting damage to her relationships with family and friends, some of which she believes can never be repaired.”

He said that NGN had agreed to pay Collins “substantial damages” and apologised for “the distress caused to her by the invasion of her privacy by individuals working for or on behalf of the News Of The World.”

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