Tony Blair's wife sues over phone-hacking: lawyer

22nd February 2012, Comments 0 comments

The wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair has launched legal action over phone hacking, her lawyer said on Wednesday, reportedly against Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

"I can confirm that we have issued a claim on behalf of Cherie Blair in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails," Graham Atkins said in a statement, adding that he would make no further comment.

Reports said the claim was against News Group Newspapers, a subsidiary of Murdoch's US-based News Corporation which is the publisher of The Sun tabloid and the now defunct weekly the News of the World.

The claim was also against private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed in 2007 for phone hacking on behalf of the News of the World, the reports on the BBC and in British newspapers said.

News Group said it had no immediate comment.

Tony Blair's former press officer Alastair Campbell told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards in November that he suspected the Daily Mirror had uncovered Cherie Blair's pregnancy in 1999 due to hacking.

Campbell told the hearing that he previously accused Blair family friend Carole Caplin of leaking stories to the press.

"During various periods of the time that we were in government, we were very, very concerned about how many stories about Cherie and Carole Caplin were getting out to different parts of the media," he told the inquiry.

"I had no idea how they were getting out. In relation to not just Carole, and not just Cherie, but all of us who were involved in the government at that time, all sorts of stuff got out.

"Some of it may have got out because people who were within the government were putting it out there, but equally there were all sorts of stories where you would just sit there scratching your head thinking, 'how the hell did that get out?'."

Murdoch shut down the News of the World in July last year as a scandal over the illegal interception of of mobile phone voicemails spiralled out of control.

His empire has in recent months agreed to make huge payouts worth tens of millions of pounds to dozens of hacking victims including British actor Jude Law and footballer Ashley Cole.

Another victim was John Prescott, who served as deputy prime minister in Blair's Labour government.

Blair was in power from 1997 to 2007, during which time Murdoch's newspapers switched their support to Labour from the rival Conservative party.

He is the godfather to one of Murdoch's daughters by his Chinese-born wife Wendi.

© 2012 AFP

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