News UK is facing fresh accusations of phone-hacking with the latest claims for the first time bringing the UK’s top tabloid the Sun under investigation.
The claims come as phone-hacking settlements against the News of the World are seemingly coming to a close with musician Lisa Moorish most recently receiving damages in October. As a result News UK has spent more than £300m settling phone hacking cases since 2008.
The London High Court today (13 January) hosted claimants who argued that phone hacking was also perpetrated by the Sun, allegations that could erode News UK’s argument that the practice was confined to News of the World.
Sixteen claims will go to trial in April with 25 more scheduled to follow, some of which made accusations of phone hacking as early as 1998, according to the Press Gazette.
An NGN lawyer said: “If we have to put in place a disclosure regime going back to 1998 [at the Sun] we will have to do some thorough research.”
He added that involving the Sun in phone-hacking civil claims would be a “big development” and “open up a new front in this litigation”.
A News UK spokesperson said: "Following many years of investigation, there were no charges against the Sun or its employees for voicemail interception.
“Today, certain claimants seeking financial settlements arising from activities at the News of the World have made unsubstantiated claims against the Sun. If the court permits such claims to proceed, the Sun will defend them vigorously.”
As of March 2015, a report from the Media Standards Trust stated that News UK had settled with a total of 591 regarding its phone hacking activity, all of which were reportedly confined to the News of the World.
The news comes after the CPS decided to drop its phone hacking investigation into News Group Newspapers and Piers Morgan in December.
Among those prosecuted for voicemail interception was former editor of the Sun, Andy Coulson who was jailed in June 2014 as a result.