News Corp tries to settle debts, limit damage

By Theresa Mallinson 7 November 2011

News Corporation announced on Friday its voluntarily compensation scheme for people whose phones were hacked. But with civil claims mounting, not to mention James Murdoch's date to reappear before parliament on Thursday to answer further questions about the phone-hacking saga, it looks like it might be too little, too late. By THERESA MALLINSON.

On Friday Rupert Murdoch’s New Corporation announced a new move to limit damage in the fallout from the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. The company has launched a voluntary compensation scheme, which allows victims of the newspaper’s phone-hacking tactics to apply to be compensated online. Charles Gray, an arbitration exporter and former high court judge, will be the scheme’s independent adjudicator.

“I am confident the scheme, which is now operational, will provide a fair, effective and speedy means for determining compensation in these cases,” Gray  said. “It should provide very significant benefits to applicants such as avoiding the enormous expense of court proceedings. I look forward to adjudicating awards under the scheme, at all times safeguarding the fairness of the process and the rights of applicants.”

Benefits of applying to join the scheme include:

  • An uplift of 10% on whatever amount the adjudicator awards;
  • Payment of the applicant’s reasonable legal costs; and
  • Confidentiality over victim identity from start to finish, if requested.

It is believed that as many as almost 6,000 people could have fallen prey to phone-hacking by News of the World. News International is already having to defend more than 60 civil claims made by phone-hacking victims, with litigants including celebrities, sports stars and politicians, among others. While the fund for victims reportedly sits at £20 million, the Guardian stated that attorney Mark Lewis, who has acted for some of the people whose phones were targeted, believes that News International may have to pay out more than £200 million. DM




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