Phone hacking in focus at Trinity Mirror's results

LONDON Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:56am BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror will report first-half results on Friday and give an update on current trading expected to show a benefit from the closure of rival News Corp's News of the World.

Trinity Mirror, which owns the Mirror and the Sunday Mirror tabloids, will also face questions about its own newsgathering practices, as it prepares to defend itself against claims that it also hacked phones to obtain stories, the very charge that led to the axing of the News of the World (NOTW).

Lawyer Mark Lewis, who is representing dozens of claimants against the NOTW, including the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, told Reuters he would soon launch three or four cases against Trinity Mirror.

Heather Mills, the ex-wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, has claimed that her phone was hacked by a Trinity Mirror journalist before their marriage. McCartney has said he plans to talk to police.

Ex-Mirror editor Piers Morgan, now a U.S. chat show host, wrote in a 2006 column that he had listened to one of Mills's phone messages from McCartney. He has since said repeatedly that he has never hacked a phone or told anyone to do so.

Trinity Mirror has launched a review of its editorial controls and procedures.

Readership of the Sunday Mirror leapt 50 percent in the immediate aftermath of the closure of the NOTW last month, according to a Kantar Media survey.

But in the first half, Trinity Mirror's revenue is expected to have slipped 2 percent to 375 million pounds, according to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of four analysts. Operating profit is seen down 22 percent to 48 million pounds.

Daily Mail & General Trust, which publishes the country's best-selling mid-market tabloids, reported a slowing decline in its advertising revenue in July but said the market remained weak, reflecting a fragile UK economy.

($1 = 0.619 British Pounds)

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan)

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