Monday, February 27, 2012

Charlotte Church 'sickened' by NoW phone hacking

Charlotte Church 'sickened' by NoW phone hacking
Charlotte Church
Charlotte Church says she was "sickened and disgusted" by what she discovered during her legal action against News International over phone hacking.

Ms Church and her parents have agreed damages and costs of £600,000 with News Group Newspapers - publishers of the defunct News of the World.

The High Court heard the singer's phone was hacked when she was 16 years old.

The court agreed that 33 articles in the paper had been due to her family's voicemails being hacked.

The settlement includes £300,000 in legal costs and a public apology.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Ms Church said it was an "important day" for her and her family.

"I brought this legal claim with my parents, as many others have done, because we wanted to find out the truth about what this newspaper group had done in the pursuit of stories about our family.

"What I have discovered as the litigation has gone on has sickened and disgusted me.

"Nothing was deemed off limits by those who pursued me and my family, just to make money for a multinational news corporation."
'Deeply traumatised'

The court heard Ms Church's phone was hacked in 2002 and journalists also placed her under surveillance and gained access to her medical records.

The court heard her mother, Maria, was at "her lowest ebb" and was "coerced" into an interview with the paper's journalists about how she had self-harmed and attempted suicide after reporters gained information from hacked voicemails about her medical history.

The family's solicitor, Mike Brookes, told the court: "She felt she had no choice but to give the interview and was deeply traumatised by the publication of the story in the NoW."

He said: "The NoW targeted Charlotte and her voicemail messages repeatedly, and in doing so unlawfully obtained her private medical information and details of her personal relationships with her family and friends.

"Even her first teenage boyfriend. They then ran stories about Charlotte using this information."

BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said the award, the last of the first wave of 60 settlements, was one of the highest. Former cabinet minister Tessa Jowell was awarded £200,000, while actor Jude Law received £130,000.

He said it gave an insight into some of the things that had taken place and the deeply personal nature of the intrusion which Ms Church was clearly very, very angry about outside court.

"We got a sense of how important the process of litigation here is, the process of discovery, with Ms Church saying it has only been in the last few days that she really learned the full extent of what had been happening," our correspondent added.
'Not truly sorry'

Ms Church said she had discovered that, despite an apology she believed the paper was "not truly sorry, only sorry they got caught".

She added that "money could never mend the damage that was done," and she would use her portion of the settlement to protect her children from further invasions of privacy.

Michael Silverleaf QC, for NGN, said: "NGN acknowledges that they should never have had to endure what they have suffered and that NGN are liable for the damage that they have caused," he said.

The 26-year-old singer said she was now planning to focus on helping the criminal investigation and Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into media ethics.

In November, she told the Leveson Inquiry that her mother had attempted suicide "at least in part" because she had known the newspaper was going to publish details of her father's affair.

She told the hearing paparazzi had taken pictures up her skirt, there were photographers outside her house on most days and her manager had found evidence of a camera hidden in a shrub outside her home.

 News By BBC

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