£1.2m in compensation Celebs’ hacking payout: Celebrity Hacking Payout
Published: May 21, 2015
£1.2m in compensation Celebs’ hacking payout: Celebrity Hacking Payout, The publisher of the Daily and Sunday Mirror has been ordered to pay £1.2m in compensation to eight phone-hacking victims, including the actor Sadie Frost and the former footballer Paul Gascoigne.
Frost was awarded £260,250 in what is believed to be the single biggest privacy damages payout since the phone-hacking scandal broke in 2010.
Gascoigne is to receive £188,250 in compensation from Trinity Mirror after the former England footballer told the high court he was driven to alcoholism and severe paranoia when journalists snooped on his voicemails from 2000 to 2010.
The newspaper group, which also publishes the People, was accused at a high court trial in March of industrial-scale phone hacking that made the News of the World look “like a small cottage industry”.
Trinity Mirror announced after Thursday’s ruling that it was considering an appeal, saying its initial view was that the basis used for calculating the level of damages was incorrect.
However, with the company now facing new phone-hacking damages claims from more than 100 high-profile figures, it also said it was increasing the amount of money set aside to deal with the legal cases from £12m to £28m.
The judge, Mr Justice Mann, ordered what he described as “very substantial” payouts after considering the scale of intrusion suffered by the eight claimants.
The newspaper group had been sued by Gascoigne, Frost, the BBC executive Alan Yentob, Coronation Street actor Shobna Gulati, flight attendant Lauren Alcorn, TV producer Robert Ashworth and EastEnders actors Lucy Taggart and Shane Richie.
Trinity Mirror admitted at the start of the three-week trial that more than 100 articles about the eight claimants were the result of phone hacking. The civil case is the first of its kind to result in a high court trial.
A criminal investigation into voicemail interception at the three titles is running in parallel to the civil hearing.
Ashworth, a former Coronation Street producer who told the court that phone hacking had ruined his media career and his marriage to soap actor Tracy Shaw, was awarded £201,250 for the invasion of his privacy.
Taggart received a £157,250 payout, while Richie got £155,000, Gulati got £117,500, Yentob was awarded £85,000 and Alcorn got £78,500.
The payouts dwarf those paid by News UK, the publisher of the now-defunct News of the World, to phone-hacking victims. In contrast to those payouts, the Trinity Mirror damages were decided by a high court judge after the victims refused to settle out of court.
Gulati turned and hugged Lucy Taggart when the judge said the victims had suffered “very substantially indeed”. Frost, sitting two seats away from them at the back of the courtroom, showed little emotion as the amounts of compensation were read out. Outside court, Frost told the Guardian: “It’s been a difficult time and a time to reflect. I’m relieved this is at an end and justice has been done.”
As she left court to a media scrum, Taggart told the television cameras that the seven years her phone was hacked was a “very stressful time” and that “a lot of very private information was revealed” by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), the Trinity Mirror subsidiary that publishes the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People. “I’m just glad it’s all over,” she said.
Gulati told journalists that she just wanted to put the saga behind her. Asked what impact the intrusion had on her family, she replied: “A big one.”
Giving evidence during the trial, Frost described how the voicemail interception made her suspect close relatives and friends of selling stories about her to the press, to such an extent that she even made her mother sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Frost said she was thrilled with the outcome of the case, but accepted she would never know the full extent of Mirror newspapers’ intrusion into her life.
A statement released by the actor’s solicitor, Mark Thomson, said: “Whilst Sadie would have preferred not to have come to court to relive painful experiences, having been left with no option by MGN, she is relieved that the judge has recognised, in his lengthy and detailed judgment, the sustained and intrusive impact that MGN’s repeated publication of her private information had on her life and her family.
“It was important for Sadie to bring an action against MGN in order to find out as much as possible about what had gone on. She accepts, reluctantly, that she will never know the full extent of the unlawful activities by MGN but is relieved to have finally found out that her private information was hacked rather than having been leaked by someone close to her. My client now wants to put this matter behind her and will not be making any further comment.”
Gascoigne’s solicitor, Gerald Shamash, said his client was “delighted and relieved” at the judgment.
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