New phone-hacking allegations at Rupert Murdoch's now closed newspaper News of the World have been made.
Sources told The Guardian on Friday that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has been hit with 600 new hacking claims, some new victims, and some people who had earlier decided not to sue. Scotland Yard’s new information reportedly comes from a former suspect turned informant for the police. The news comes just days before Britain’s high court will hear arguments from more than a dozen people—including Cherie Blair and David Beckham’s father—who settled last fall with News International, News Corp.’s British wing. With the new claims, the investigation into hacking at News Corp. could last well into 2015:
Further details are expected to emerge on Monday morning at the high court during a hearing relating to the existing litigation by hacking victims against Murdoch's News International (NI) – hours before MPs are due to vote on joint Labour and Liberal Democrat amendments that would introduce a backstop law to stiffen regulation of the press.
Sources say Scotland Yard detectives believe they can identify as many as 600 new incidents after obtaining the phone records of an insider who is now being lined up as a crown witness. As a result of the new information, the force's Operation Weeting is revisitng the timetable for concluding its investigation, which had been due to be completed with the conclusion of trials this year. Police now expect their work to continue into 2015.
The 600 new potential litigants fall into three groups: new victims; others who sued over hacking but signed agreements with NI allowing them to sue the company again; and a third group who signed agreements potentially barring them from suing again. The indications are that there may be "some hundreds of new legal actions" from the first two groups.
On Monday the high court will hear formally of at least a dozen settlements out of the 167 civil claims filed last autumn from individuals including Cherie Blair and David Beckham's father, Ted. Blair was one of 170 victims who chose to sue in the high court instead of going through the NI private scheme, which has so far accepted 254 compensation claims.
And here I thought there wasn't a phone left that Murdock's goons hadn't hacked yet...