News Corp. has entered formal settlement arrangements in a large swath of the civil lawsuits it faces here stemming from phone hacking at its now-closed News of the World tabloid, as victims' lawyers said the company has agreed to compensate victims on the basis that senior employees sought to cover up wrongdoing and destroy evidence.
Hugh Tomlinson, a lawyer for some phone-hacking victims, indicated in court on Thursday that the company has agreed to settlements in 19 of 26 so-called test and reserve cases that were to establish standards for damages. He added, however, that agreements have also been reached in 17 other cases, for a total of 36 new settlements.
The alleged victims — who include celebrities, politicians, victims of crime and others — generally claim that the News of the World weekly tabloid newspaper breached their privacy by intercepting their voice-mail messages. Those cases reaching settlements include ones brought by actor Jude Law and politician Chris Bryant, the lawyers said. A number of the victims will continue to pursue their claims in court.
Statements read in court on Thursday disclosed the amount of the agreed settlements with some victims. Those include £130,000 ($199,778) plus legal costs to Mr. Law; £50,000 plus legal costs to Mr. Law's former wife, Sadie Frost; £30,000 plus legal costs to Mr. Bryant; and £40,000 plus legal costs to politician John Prescott.
In announcing the settlements, victims' lawyers said News Corp. had made more sweeping admissions to wrongdoing than it had in the past.
A statement issued Thursday by some of the lawyers representing the victims said that "News Group has agreed to compensation being assessed on the basis that senior employees and directors of (News Group Newspapers) knew about the wrongdoing and sought to conceal it by deliberately deceiving investigators and destroying evidence."
News Group Newspapers is a unit of News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper unit, News International, and had published News of the World.