The revelation of the former News of the World’s phone hacking practises came as a huge shock to the public. As enquiries continue the UK is slowly starting to realise the extent of these practises and how deeply they run throughout the whole of the media world. When The Guardian came across evidence to indicate Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked, the public started to realise that it wasn’t only celebrities who could be victim to journalists malpractice, but rather that ordinary members of the public were (and potentially are) at risk. The Metropolitan Police have estimated that up to 5,795 individuals in total have been victims of phone hacking and are therefore due compensation. Below is a summary of some of the more high-profile compensation cases which have come about due to phone hacking.
The Phone Hacking Scandal: a Brief Summary
The News of the World had first been accused of phone hacking as far back as 2003 and by March 2010 the paper had spend over £2 million settling legal cases with victims of phone hacking, including a 2006 case involving the hacking of Prince William’s phone. In 2010 with more and more civil cases being made against NotW, and certain police investigations, the Met started to realise how wide-spread and entrenched phone hacking practises were within the paper, and therefore launched a more thorough investigation.
Initially it was believed that only those in the public eye were victims, but with the revelation that the abducted schoolgirl Milly Dowler had had her phone hacked after she had gone missing, the public and police started to realise that anyone who could give a good story was at risk. It came out that British soldiers and victims of the 7/7 attacks were also hacked. When this startling information was revealed the government launched a public enquiry into media practises across the board known as the Leveson enquiry which began in July 2011.
High Profile Compensation Cases
By the 20th january 2012 37 phone hacking cases had been settled and amongst these were some well known celebrities.
Jude Law: Jude Law received £130,000 plus legal costs in a no win, no fee claim for damages done to him as a result of phone hacking. Law claimed the personal information which was perpetually leaked to the public via the tabloid paper started to make him distrustful of his close friends. His ex-wife Sadia Frost also made a no win, no fee claim and won £50, 000 in damages. She claimed that the phone hacking practises made her distrustful of Law and impacted significantly upon their relationship.
John Prescott’s Chief of Staff: When John Prescott was deputy prime minister it has been discovered that the NotW hacked the phone of his chief of staff, Joan Hammell. The paper were reportedly only hoping to gain information about an alleged affair between Prescott and a secretary, but since Joan Hammell was cleared to highest possible level of security, the hacking also posed a huge security risk. Hammell received £40,000 in compensation.
Hugh Grant: In some ways spear heading the campaign by celebrities to bring the media to justice, Hugh Grant has become an outspoken critic of media practises and appeared at the Leveson Enquiry to give evidence of his experience. He recorded a conversation between himself and Paul McMullan, a former editor at the NotW, where McMullan openly admits to the practise of phone hacking. Grant has also accused the Mail on Sunday of hacking his phone.
If you think you might have been at risk of phone-hacking the best thing to do is contact your local police station with an enquiry. From there you may very well be able to launch a no win, no fee claim.