Mirror phone-hacking: celebs queue up after £1.2m payout
Eight victims who had their voicemails intercepted by journalists awarded 'astonishing' compensation pay-out
Mirror Group Newspapers has been ordered to pay a total of £1.2m in compensation to eight celebrity phone-hacking victims.
The judge said the victims, who include actress Sadie Frost and former England footballer Paul Gascoigne, had suffered a "serious infringement of privacy" and the scale of hacking was "very substantial indeed".
The High Court was told that "teams of journalists" across three newspapers - the Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People – illegally intercepted voicemails on an "unparalleled" scale.
The publishing company admitted that phone hacking was the source of more than 100 articles about the celebrities and the criminal investigation into the voicemail interception continues.
During three weeks of testimony, celebrities described how their personal lives "had been torn apart by a decade of mistrust, paranoia and intense tabloid scrutiny", The Guardian reports.
EastEnders actor Shane Richie broke down in tears while describing how journalists listened in on voicemails left by his mother while his father was seriously ill in hospital. "He was dying in my arms and the f*****s were hacking my phone," he said in court.
Actress Sadie Frost, who had her voicemails hacked on a daily basis, was forced to get her mother to sign a confidentiality agreement because she believed she was leaking private information to the press. "It is difficult to explain the damage this has done to me. For many years, I was in a living hell," she said.
Frosts was awarded £260,250, the largest compensation payout since the phone-hacking scandal came to light in 2010. Her lawyers said she was "thrilled and relieved" with the verdict, but says she "reluctantly" accepts that she may never know the full extent of the crimes committed by Mirror Group journalists, the BBC reports.
The trial has prompted other celebrities to step forward and forced Trinity Mirror to increase its multi-million pound compensation fund. At least 41 celebrities, including Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley, have made claims "and dozens more are waiting in the wings", says the Guardian's Josh Halliday.
The Mirror Group says it is now considering launching an appeal against today's ruling on the basis that the compensation figure was wrongly calculated.
"The scale of the privacy awards is, frankly, astonishing," concedes the Guardian's media commentator Roy Greenslade. "But they are all paying for the sins of the past."