How Much Will Murdoch Pay To Settle Phone Hacking Claims?
More headaches loom on the horizon for Rupert Murdoch’s News International, the British media subsidiary of his Manhattan-based News Corporation. News International is now facing 63 more claims of alleged phone hacking, but these could just be the tip of the iceberg: Mark Lewis, the lawyer for some of the claimants, says that fewer than 5 percent of those whose phones were hacked by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for the now defunct tabloid News of the World, have been notified.
Last month, News International offered to make a 3 million pound payment to the family of Milly Dowler, the murdered British schoolgirl whose phone was hacked by staff of NoW. News International has a 20 million pound contingency fund to address legal claims, but that will likely not be nearly enough. Documents seized from Mulcaire’s house when he, along with former NoW Royals reporter Clive Goodman were arrested in 2006, contain some 4,000 names of alleged victims of phone hacking.
Among those who have filed claims are former Downing Street communications chief Alastair Campbell and a number of British politicians; Princess Diana’s former butler; celebrities including Jude Law, Sadie Frost and other entertainment and sports figures. Others include Sara Payne, who had campaigned with NoW on behalf of Sarah’s Law, which called for parents to be able to gain access to information about pedophiles following the murder of her eight-year-old daughter Sarah, and Paul Dadge, a hero of the 7/7 bombing in London.
The 63 claims were filed because of a legal cut-off point for claims, according to the Guardian. Most of the claims list News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that published the NoW, as the defendant, as well as Glenn Mulcaire. One claim by singer Cornelia Crisan also names former senior NoW report Neville Thurlbeck who, last week, had said that he will identify who at NoW authorized the phone hacking.
Media lawyer Niri Shan noted that “News Corp may overpay to get rid of claimants.”
It is indeed possible (though admittedly unlikely) that just how many millions Rupert Murdoch has could be revealed. In response to a call last week from News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal editorial board that he disclose his tax returns, billionaire Warren Buffet said he would be glad to do on one condition, that Murdoch release his:
“I think it might be a terrific idea if [the Wall Street Journal] would just ask their boss, Rupert Murdoch, and he and I will meet at Fortune, and we’ll both give you our tax returns and you can publish them….I’m ready tomorrow morning.”
Murdoch has not yet responded.
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