News of the World's owners settle with seven hacking victims
The owner of Britain's now-defunct News of World said Tuesday it had settled phone hacking claims brought by seven public figures, as a court heard ex-footballer Paul Gascoigne was close to a reaching a deal.
News International, the British newspaper unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, agreed payouts with Diana, princess of Wales' former lover James Hewitt and late football icon George Best's son Calum among others.
"News International can confirm that seven claims against News Group Newspapers and Glenn Mulcaire (a private detective employed by the tabloid) have been settled following discussions with News Corporation's Management and Standards Committee, acting on behalf of NGN," a statement said.
"NGN has agreed to pay appropriate sums by way of compensation and costs and have expressed regret for the distress caused."
Paul Dadge, who helped survivors of the July 2005 bombings in London, was among those whose claims were settled, along with television presenter Ulrika Jonsson, model Abi Titmuss, former lawmaker Mark Oaten and theatrical agent Michelle Milburn.
It also emerged Tuesday that former England midfielder Gascoigne's phone-hacking claim is close to being settled.
Lawyer Jeremy Reed told a High Court judge that the case "is settling", but refused to give any further details.
News International has already settled dozens of compensation claims, including with British actress Sienna Miller, and has set up a compensation scheme for victims of phone hacking in a bid to avoid further costly civil lawsuits.
Police said earlier this month they believe about 800 people had their voicemail hacked into by the News of the World.
As late as a month ago, Scotland Yard had said it identified 5,800 potential hacking victims, based largely on names found in the notes of Mulcaire, who was jailed for phone hacking in 2007.
© 2011 AFP