Lawyer kicks off News Corp hacking case in US
A British lawyer acting for victims of phone hacking at the now-closed News of the World newspaper said Friday he has begun moves to take legal proceedings against its US parent company News Corp.
Mark Lewis has instructed a New York-based lawyer to begin proceedings seeking information from Rupert Murdoch, his son James and other News Corp. directors. He expects the papers to be filed in the next week or so.
"All the directors in America of News Corporation can be questioned under these deposition procedures, and that would include Rupert and James Murdoch," Lewis told AFP.
He has instructed US lawyer Norman Siegel, who represents 20 families of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks who believe their phones may have been hacked by News Corp. journalists.
Siegel told AFP that he and another lawyer Steve Hyman were exploring the legal options, including a class action suit against News Corp. for possible violations of laws barring US corporations from bribing foreign officials. But he said no course of action had been decided.
"The allegations are serious and substantial. We're going to pursue them in a similar serious manner. We're (going to) figure out what's the next steps are," he said.
Lewis would not name the clients who requested the action, although he said they did not include the family of murdered 13-year-old British girl Milly Dowler, whom he also represented.
Allegations that News of the World journalists hacked the girl's phone after she went missing in 2002 sparked national outrage and prompted Rupert Murdoch to close the 168-year-old News of the World in July this year.
The Dowler family is believed to be on the verge of accepting a £3 million ($4.6 million, 3.4 million euro) settlement from News Corp., which would include a £2 million payment to the family and a £1 million donation to charity.
That figure would swamp previous compensation payments, including the £100,000 settlement with actress Sienna Miller.
Asked why he had launched the US action, Lewis said: "As a lawyer, you have to do what is in your client's interests to achieve your best results."
A journalist and private detective at the News of the World were jailed over phone hacking in 2007, but News Corp.'s British newspaper unit, News International, insisted at the time that it was a one-off.
A stream of revelations in recent years forced the company to admit that hacking was widespread at the tabloid, and sparked a new police investigation.
© 2011 AFP