Sienna Miller close to settlement after phone-hacking scandal

SIENNA Miller's claim in the News of the World phone-hacking action is on the verge of being settled.

Yesterday, News Group's QC Michael Silverleaf told Mr Justice Vos at London's High Court that it admitted liability unconditionally for all the wrongs alleged by the actress and accepted responsibility for compensating her.

Today, after out-of-court discussions, Ms Miller's counsel, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said she would apply to enter judgement on the basis of those admissions for 100,000 damages - which was the sum offered by News Group last month - and other relief.

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Mr Tomlinson said the proposed settlement, which has yet to be finalised, would include the provision of information and disclosure by the News of the World "concerning the extent of the wrongdoing", subject to a proviso of reasonable practicality.

Ms Miller would also have liberty to apply to the courts if more relevant wrongdoing was disclosed and would seek the making of a statement in open court in agreed terms or unilaterally.

Counsel said: "I make the position clear that Ms Miller is proceeding in this way precisely because Mr Silverleaf indicated yesterday all her claims have been admitted - misuse of private information, breach of confidence, publication of articles derived from voice-mail hacking and a course of conduct of harassment over a period of more than 12 months.

"In those circumstances, her primary concern is not how much money is awarded by way of compensation but to know exactly what the extent was of the hacking which took place and, having obtained an order which will enable her to know that - so far as it is knowable - that meets all her requirements from this action."

The settlement is likely to be formalised by the court next Friday, when there is another case management conference in the litigation, if not before.

The development came on the second day of a hearing in which the judge was being asked by News Group to "stay" Ms Miller's case as to continue it would be an abuse of process.

Mr Silverleaf had told him that the 100,000 offer, plus injunctive relief and costs, was "substantially in excess" of what the actress could win through the courts.

But, Mr Tomlinson said she had not become very greedy, but wanted to know the precise extent of the wrongdoing and be properly compensated in the light of it.

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In any case, he added, Mr Silverleaf had referred to damages cases relating to single incidents or publications, while Ms Miller's claim related to 10 or 11 articles over 12 months.

"If they were a TV company and Ofcom was dealing with this conduct, they would be very lucky to get away with 400,000."

Ms Miller's claim had been expected to be one of four test cases to be tried at the end of this year - the others being those of interior designer Kelly Hoppen, commentator Andy Gray and sports agent Sky Andrew.

There have been a series of court rulings recently over disclosure of information by the Metropolitan Police and Vodafone relating to material forfeited by private detective Glenn Mulcaire who, with News of the World reporter Clive Goodman, was jailed over royal phone taps in 2007.

The applications have been made by a number of alleged victims - including Ms Miller, Law, footballer Paul Gascoigne, comedian Steve Coogan and former MP George Galloway.

Eight claimants in the litigation, including Ms Miller and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, have received apologies from the newspaper, and News International has written to another nine asking for further evidence that their voicemails had been intercepted so a decision can be made on whether they too are entitled to an apology and compensation.

Later, a spokesman for News International said: "We are pleased that we have managed to bring this case to a satisfactory conclusion.

"Several weeks ago we admitted liability in certain cases and offered a genuine and unreserved apology. We hope to resolve other cases swiftly.

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"For the record, reports that we have been ordered to disclose 8,000 emails to Ms Miller are inaccurate.

"The error stems from a reference in court to the fact that a total of 8,000 emails were being searched to ascertain whether any Sienna Miller-related material was amongst them."