Duchess settles phone hacking claim

Romsey Advertiser: The Duchess of York has received a public apology and damages from News Group Newspapers The Duchess of York has received a public apology and damages from News Group Newspapers

The Duchess of York has headed the list of 17 people who settled their phone-hacking damages claims.

She received a "comprehensive and categoric" apology and a "significant payment in damages" from News Group Newspapers (NGN), said solicitor Paul Tweed after the announcements at London's High Court.

"Notwithstanding this successful outcome, my client remains extremely concerned that questions beyond the scope of these legal proceedings still need to be answered in relation to other instances of inappropriate and extreme intrusion into her private life," said Mr Tweed, senior partner at law firm Johnsons.

Other celebrities who received damages, costs and a public apology from NGN were singer James Blunt, actors Christopher Eccleston and Hugh Grant, entertainer Uri Geller, former Labour minister Geoffrey Robinson, singer Kerry Katona, and presenters June Sarpong and Jeff Brazier.

Less well-known names included anthropologist and adventurer Christopher Terrill, Hilary Perrin, Labour's director of regional organisation, and Richard Reardon, the parish priest of singer Charlotte Church and her parents.

None of the payments were disclosed - except in the case of Colin Stagg, who was wrongly accused of the murder of Rachel Nickell - and is to receive £15,500 plus costs.

David Sherborne, counsel for the Duchess of York, told Mr Justice Vos: "During the period from 2000 until 2006 the claimant experienced unusual activity on her mobile phone.

"The claimant also noticed that journalists and/or photographers appeared to know her location in advance, meaning that when she arrived at functions or planned events, it was often the case that journalists or photographers were already present."

She commenced proceedings last year for "misuse of private information, breach of confidence and harassment in respect of the interception of her telephone messages".

Anthony Hudson, for NGN, offered its "sincere apologies" for the damage and the distress caused. "NGN acknowledges that the information should never have been obtained unlawfully in the manner in which it was, and that NGN is liable for misuse of private information and breach of confidence."

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