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Elton John and Sophie Ellis Bextor among new batch of phone hacking litigants

By | Published on Friday 7 April 2017

Elton John

Ah, phone hacking, that all seems like a very long time ago now, doesn’t it? But not in the High Court, where celebrities are still lining up for compensation over allegations that journalists at the tabloids owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK hacked their phones. That includes Elton John and Sophie Ellis-Bextor so – boom! – this counts as music news again.

As you may remember, the phone hacking story began in 2006 when the Sunday tabloid the News Of The World admitted that its royal correspondent had been using a private investigator to hack the voicemail accounts of the rich and famous. Bosses at Murdoch’s UK newspaper business insisted that just that one single journalist was in the business of hacking phones, until five years later when chapter two of the phone hacking saga exploded, and it then admitted that phone hacking had been rife across the NOTW, which was then promptly closed down.

Meanwhile News UK insisted that while journalists at NOTW may have liked hacking phones for fun times, reporters at sister title The Sun never did any such thing. The management over at rival tabloid the Daily Mirror also said their hacks never hacked, until three years later when they admitted that, actually, they did, quite a lot.

News UK continues to insist that The Sun wasn’t involved in the phone hacking fad, but the latest round of legal action from celebrities who allege their voicemail messages were illegally accessed by journalists include allegations relating to stories that appeared in Murdoch’s daily tabloid too.

Both News UK and Trinity Mirror have previously settled with a stack of celebs whose phones were hacked by News Of The World and Mirror journalists respectively. But there are now a whole load more legal claims being made against the Murdoch company, partly because it wound down its voluntary compensation scheme for phone hacking victims, and partly because a High Court judge last year said there was sufficient evidence for cases to be pursued against The Sun as well as the News Of The World.

John and Ellis-Bextor have been recently confirmed as being among the celebrities involved in the latest round of litigation against News UK, which is set to reach court in October.

One of the lawyers representing some of the celebrities involved in the latest chapter of the phone hacking story, Christopher Hutchings, told the BBC this week that “this surge in the number of claimants is a reflection of the expansion of the case to cover The Sun”, while adding that some claimants were seeking damages not only for the actual phone hacking, but also over allegations News UK bosses were involved in “concealment and destruction of evidence” in a bid to cover up or contain the scandal.