LONDON (Reuters) - A raft of public figures and crime victims have launched new legal claims against Rupert Murdoch’s News International over allegations of phone hacking, including a man whose wife and daughter were murdered in a hammer attack.
A source familiar with the matter said around 60 claimants had now lodged cases against News International, charging that they had their phones hacked to generate stories by people working for the company’s now defunct News of the World tabloid.
Several celebrities including film star Jude Law, sports pundit Andy Gray and others are set to sue the newspaper in a civil test case to set guidelines over damages.
Judge Vos, who is hearing the civil cases, had set a deadline for Monday, October 3 for other claimants to launch legal cases to be heard early, the source said. Theirs will form the first batch to be heard after test cases early next year.
According to the Guardian newspaper, which has led coverage of the phone-hacking scandal, the new claimants include Shaun Russell, whose wife and daughter were murdered in a hammer attack. His other daughter, Josie, survived the attack and has frequently been interviewed by the British press.
Sara Payne, the mother of a murdered British schoolgirl who regularly worked with the News of the World to raise awareness of paedophilia, has also launched a case, as has a man who was photographed helping victims in the minutes after the London July 7, 2005 bombings.
Paul Dadge was photographed helping a woman who was wearing a white mask over her face in one of the most recognisable images from that day.
Alastair Campbell, the communications advisor to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Paul Burrell, the former butler to Princess Diana, have also launched claims, the paper reported.
Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns News International, has been rocked by the admission that investigators working for the paper hacked into the phones of celebrities, victims of crime and British war dead to secure stories.
In July, facing a relentless storm of criticism, the company shut the 168-year-old paper and withdrew a prized $12 billion (7.8 billion pound) bid for pay-TV group BSkyB.
News International declined to comment on individual names but said it was “committed to reaching fair and where possible swift settlements with victims of illegal voicemail interception and has unreservedly apologised to those affected.”
Reporting by Kate Holton and Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Jon Boyle