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Phone-hack scandal: News Int'l settles with 7 more claimants

Reportedly dishes out 'hundreds of thousands of pounds'

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News International has paid hundreds of thousands of pounds in seven civil lawsuits to individuals who allegedly had their voicemails intercepted by individuals working at the now-defunct News of the World.

It said in a statement to The Register: “News International can confirm that seven claims against News Group Newspapers (NGN) and Glenn Mulcaire have been settled following discussions with News Corporation's Management and Standards Committee, acting on behalf of NGN."

The UK newspaper wing is part of News International, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp media empire.

It settled with MP Mark Oaten, TV personality Ulrika Jonsson, one-time tabloid favourite Abi Titmuss, Princess Diana's ex-lover James Hewitt, football legend George Best's son Calum Best, 7/7 victim Paul Dadge and theatrical agent Michelle Milburn.

News International said it would pay appropriate sums of cash to the seven claimants to cover compensation and legal costs.

The company, whose chairman is Rupert Murdoch's son James Murdoch, said it regretted any "distress caused" to the individuals concerned.

Sky News said NI had paid out settlements that totalled hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Who said what when AND to whom...?

Separately, the media, culture and sport select committee has published further evidence in its phone hacking inquiry.

A letter (PDF) to the cross-party committee of MPs from Linklaters LLP was sent with an attachment to several email messages sent in the summer of 2008. The emails appeared to have ricocheted between James Murdoch, the NotW final editor, Colin Myler, erstwhile NI legal boss Tom Crone and an unnamed secretary at the company.

The various exchanges include the secretary telling Murdoch junior the following on 27 May 2008:

"Colin Myler would like 10 minutes with you today." To which Murdoch junior replied with a simple "OK".

The same letter also provided a copy of an email sent to Myler from Crone, which detailed comments about the Gordon Taylor case. According to the evidence submitted to the media committee, that message was forwarded to Murdoch junior within minutes of Myler receiving it on 18 June 2008.

Last month the NI chairman told MPs that he was given "sufficient information" at a 30-minute meeting with Myler and Crone in June 2008 to "authorise the increase of the settlement offers" made to phone-hacking victim Taylor, who is the former Professional Footballers' Association boss.

The younger Murdoch claimed in November that Crone had "misled" Parliament at an earlier session with MPs on the phone-hacking inquiry, when the ex-NI legal manager had alleged that the chairman was privy to an email with the subject line "for Neville" that contained a transcript of illegally intercepted voicemail messages around the time he authorised a £425,000 payment to Taylor.

The "importance" of the email demonstrated that another reporter working at the NotW was named, Murdoch said. But it "was not described to me in detail or at all," he claimed.

"It was not described as the 'For Neville' email, and I want to be very clear. No documents were shown to me at that meeting or were given to me at that meeting."

Murdoch added that he was unable to recall any conversation with Myler prior to 10 June 2008, when he authorised the settlement payment to Taylor.

Documents released to the committee last month by NI's ex-lawyers Farrer & Co appeared to suggest a discussion between the two men had taken place on 27 May 2008.

"The first and only substantive meeting or conversation that I recall about the matter was the June 10 meeting with Mr Crone and Mr Myler, although I cannot rule out whether or not he [Crone] called me or stopped me in the hallway, or something like that, for a brief conversation," Murdoch told MPs in November.

"There is a lot of supposition in their [Crone and Myler] testimony," Murdoch said at the time when asked by MPs which party was telling the truth about what happened in the summer of 2008.

The inquiry into alleged phone-hacking continues. ®

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