Stars including Elle Macpherson may sue News of the World
More than a dozen high-profile figures are considering an unprecedented, multi-million-pound group legal action against the News of the World over allegations that their phones were tapped illegally.
Lawyers have said that the unidentified individuals, from politics, television and sport, were considering suing the Sunday newspaper.
The tabloid is alleged to have already paid more than £1 million in out-of-court settlements following the prosecution of Clive Goodman, the newspaper’s former royal editor, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator. They were jailed for hacking into the phone messages of aides to the Royal family two years ago.
Mulcaire admitted in the trial that he also tapped the phones of Elle Macpherson, the model; Simon Hughes, the MP; Max Clifford, the publicist; and Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association. But it has now emerged that hundreds more may have been targeted.
Those alleged to be on the hitlist of desired victims included John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister; Tessa Jowell, the Minister for the Cabinet Office; Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London; Gwyneth Paltrow, the actress, and Nigella Lawson, the chef.
Graham Shear, a partner at law firm Teacher Stern, said a number of his clients, who include actors, sports stars and politicians, were now considering legal action. Mark Stevens, another prominent media lawyer, said he had also been contacted by a number of individuals investigating whether they could sue.
The individuals may take a private prosecution over alleged phone hacking, or sue News International, which publishes the newspaper, for a gross invasion of privacy.
John Yates, the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that senior officers were confident that all those people targeted had been made aware of the compromise to their security.
“It is important to recognise that our enquiries showed that in the vast majority of cases there was insufficient evidence to show that tapping had actually been achieved,” he said. There was no evidence that the phone of Mr Prescott had been tapped, he added.