Charlotte Church and parents awarded £600,000 in phone-hacking legal action
Singer Charlotte Church and her parents have reached a settlement in their phone-hacking claim against News of the World publisher, News International.
A statement agreed by the singer and the publisher of the now-defunct newspaper read out at the high court revealed that Church's voicemail messages were targeted repeatedly over a number of years and that the newspaper had "unlawfully obtained" and published "private medical information" about her and her mother after a suicide attempt by the latter.
Media Guardian reports that is understood that £300,000 of the £600,000 relates to legal costs, with the remaining £300,000 split between Church and her parents, Maria and James, in damages.
The media website adds that in a separate development, it has emerged that telephone numbers for two executives promoting Church in the US have been found in the notes of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for the News of the World for several years up to mid-2006.
These are the largest damages awarded as a result of legal proceedings brough against the now closed newspaper since allegations began to emerge last year.
Media and IP lawyer, Steve Kuncewicz explained to The Drum that the payment could a precedent for future damages awards, and was indicative of the seriousness of this particular case. "It gives you an idea of how seriously this particular allegation was taken. This case has a phone hacking element to it as well as a standard privacy/confidentiality claim and it has, along with the other hacking settlements, probably set the bar for future out-of-court deals on hacking cases pretty high. Certainly if you were one of the claimants who have already settled, you might be pretty unhappy this morning, but the nature of the information in this particular case was extremely private and pretty much impossible to justify on the grounds of public interest, hence the level of damages awarded - the other cases may not have involved facts which were quite as intrusive."
Kuncewicz also said that it would be "very tough" for previous claimants who have settled to make any further claims for more money however as they would almost certainly have been in "full and final settlement". He also speculated that because the payout was split between Church and the family, the level of damages claimed by Church could be close to that received by Tessa Jowell.