TRINITY Mirror has publicly apologised for phone hacking and said civil claims would cost the publisher millions more than first thought.
The company – which owns the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People as well as the Daily Record and Sunday Mail in Scotland – printed an apology at the top of page two in yesterday’s Mirror, admitting “such behaviour represented an unwarranted and unacceptable intrusion into people’s private lives”.
The cost of resolving claims will be “higher than previously envisaged”, according to a trading update, and the company is increasing the provision for claims by £8 million to £12m.
The update adds: “Inevitably there remains some uncertainty as to how matters will progress and whether or not new allegations or claims will emerge and their possible financial impact.”
The apology to victims in yesterday’s newspaper said: “Some years ago voicemails left on certain people’s phones were unlawfully accessed. And in many cases the information obtained was used in stories in our national newspapers.”
Trinity Mirror said this was “unlawful and should never have happened”, adding: “Such behaviour has long since been banished from Trinity Mirror’s business and we are committed to ensuring it will not happen again.”
The company said it was taking this opportunity to give “every victim a sincere and unreserved apology”, adding: “We recognise that our actions will have caused them distress for which we are truly sorry.”
Last month, the High Court was told singer Cilla Black was among the latest group of celebrities to settle phone-hacking claims for “substantial” damages.
EastEnders’ star Jessie Wallace, singer and TV personality Peter Andre and actor and singer Darren Day also settled actions against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), a subsidiary of Trinity Mirror plc, their barrister, David Sherborne, told Mr Justice Mann at the High Court.
A claim brought by Black’s son, Robert Willis, who is her manager, has also been settled.
At the hearing last month, Mr Sherborne read out statements on behalf of Black and Mr Willis, Andre, Day and Wallace, and also a further five testimonies in the cases of other individuals whose settlements had previously been reported.
They included former England football head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, actor Christopher Eccleston and David and Victoria Beckham’s former nanny Abbie Gibson.
It has been previously reported Eriksson and Eccleston settled for £30,000 each and Ms Gibson for £15,000. It is understood from a court document Day was to receive £85,000 in damages.
Meanwhile, eight representative cases, none of which have been settled, are due to come before Mr Justice Mann in London on 2 March. They concern TV executive Alan Yentob, actress Sadie Frost, former Rangers and England footballer Paul Gascoigne and soap stars Lucy Taggart, Shane Richie and Shobna Gulati, as well as a flight attendant, Lauren Alcorn, and a TV producer, Robert Ashworth.
The two-week trial will determine the extent of the hacking and the amount of damages due.
Mr Sherborne said that, out of the outstanding claims, MGN had recently settled actions brought by fund manager Nicola Horlick for £25,000, model Emma Noble for £40,000 and stuntman Bobby Holland Hanton for £75,000.
The remaining “live” claims included that of Gascoigne’s ex-wife Sheryl, actor John Thomson and TV presenter Davina McCall, with a number of others issued.
Scores of people, including celebrities, have reached similar settlements with News International, the publisher of the now-defunct News of the World, after taking legal action in the wake of phone-hacking revelations.