Phone hacking: Cherie Blair to sue News International
Tony Blair’s wife to take action against Glenn Mulcaire and NI over the alleged hacking of her phone by News of the World
- guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 22 February 2012 12.56 EST
Blair’s lawyer, Graham Atkins, said on Wednesday he had issued a claim against Mulcaire and News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that published the now defunct News of the World, “in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails”.
Blair was at the heart of the British government for 10 years – from May 1997 to June 2007 – as the wife of the former prime minister, Tony Blair. It is not known when Cherie Blair is alleged to have been targeted.
The fresh legal action comes as Rupert Murdoch‘s UK newspaper group attempts to settle a mounting number of civil claims over alleged voicemail interception by the News of the World, which closed in July 2011.
News International declined to comment.
Mulcaire’s lawyer said she was not yet aware of the legal action.
A statement from Atkins, Cherie Blair’s lawyer, said: “I can confirm that we have issued a claim on behalf of Cherie Blair in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails.
“I will not be commenting any further at this time.”
News International settled 37 civil actions in January – including high-profile actions brought by the actor Jude Law and the son of serial killer Harold Shipman – in a bid to prevent them from going to trial, and paid out to another 21 victims of phone hacking earlier this month.
The publisher is also attempting to reach a settlement with the singer Charlotte Church, whose legal action will proceed to a full trial at the high court on Monday unless it is settled beforehand.
However, News International faces at least 50 fresh civil actions, with figures including footballer Peter Crouch, singer James Blunt and Ukip leader Nigel Farage having already filed claims and others being prepared.
The news of Blair’s legal action comes at an embarrassing time for Rupert Murdoch, who arrived in London last week to lift the spirits of his newspaper group.
Alastair Campbell, the former No 10 communications director, told the Leveson inquiry in November that he believed it was “possible” thatsome stories about the Blairs were obtained by phone hacking.
Campbell admitted he had no evidence for the claim, but said in his witness statement: “I do not know if her [Carole Caplin’s] phone was hacked, or if Cherie’s was, but knowing what we do now about hacking and the extent of it, I think it is at least possible this is how the stories got out.
“They often involved details of where Cherie was going, the kind of thing routinely discussed on phones when planning visits, private as well as public.”
Caplin, former lifestyle guru to Blair, said in November that she had been told by Scotland Yard that her name appears on a list of victims targeted by Mulcaire.
Separately, the former deputy prime minister in Blair’s government, John Prescott, said in a tweet on Wednesday that he was due to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry on Monday.
The inquiry into press standards is due to begin hearing evidence on the relationship between the press and police from next week. However, some witnesses will appear to give testimony from the previous module on the press and public.
Tom Watson, the Labour MP who has been one of the most vocal critics of News International over phone hacking, said the legal action was a “very significant” development.
“Just when the hacking scandal was disappearing from view we now know that Rupert Murdoch’s hackers targeted family members of a sitting prime minister,” he told MediaGuardian.
“The lesson for all politicians, including David Cameron, is that Rupert Murdoch is only a fair-weather friend. I trust that Tony Blair will condemn Murdoch’s failure to deal with long-term criminal wrongdoing at News International.”
He added: “I hope that the replacement to the News of the World – the newly titled Sun on Sunday – will take the opportunity to apologise to all the people who suffered illegal invasions of privacy at the hands of the hackers and they come clean about other forms of illicit surveillance.”
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Posted on February 23, 2012, in news, Private Investigations, Private Investigators and tagged glenn mulcaire, investigations, news international, news of the world, phone hacking, private detectives, private investigator, rupert murdoch, surveillance. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.