Phone hacking: Hamiltons agree damages

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Former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton and his wife, Christine, have settled their High Court damages actions against News Group Newspapers (NGN) over the phone-hacking scandal.

They each accepted substantial damages and received a public apology at a hearing in London yesterday.

Former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie also settled his claim on similar terms.

Mr Hamilton, 64, and his ife, 63, were not present when lawyers read out statements detailing the settlements. Mr Leslie was not in court either.

The announcement of the settlements came during the 15th case-management conference relating to phone-hacking litigation brought by scores of public figures and others.

Mr Justice Vos heard that a claim brought by the estate of the late Jade Goody had also been settled.

Jeremy Reed, representing the Hamiltons, told the judge the couple started proceedings last year “for misuse of private information and breach of confidence in respect of obtaining their call data by unlawful means”. He said: “These events are believed to have taken place in around late 2001.”

Mr Reed told the court that NGN “now admits that Mr and Mrs Hamilton’s call data was obtained for the News of the World by unlawful means”.

He added: “I am here today to announce that NGN has accepted liability for breach of confidence and misuse of private information.

“NGN has agreed to pay substantial damages to each of Mr Hamilton and Mrs Hamilton, plus their legal costs.

“NGN has also given various undertakings to the court and to Mr and Mrs Hamilton, including an undertaking not to access or attempt to access their private information by unlawful means.”

Dinah Rose, QC, for NGN, said: “NGN is here today through me to offer its sincere apologies to Mr Hamilton and Mrs Hamilton for the damage, as well as the distress, caused to each of them by the obtaining of their private and confidential information.”