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News Of The World Publisher Settles Seven Phone-Hacking Claims

News International said it had settled seven privacy claims against News Group Newspapers, the publisher of the now-defunct News of the World.

The phone-hacking claims that have been settled have been brought by Mark Oaten, Ulrika Jonsson, Abi Titmuss, Michelle Milburn, Paul Dadge, James Hewitt and Calum Best.

In a statement NGN said it has agreed to pay “appropriate sums by way of compensation” and “expressed regret for the distress caused”.

Earlier on Tuesday Hugh Tomlinson, counsel for the alleged victims, told the high court in London that six claimants had settled with NGN.

Tomlinson declined to name those who had reached a deal with NGN and it is not clear why there is a discrepancy between the number who he said had settled and the statement issued by the newspaper publisher.

He told the high court that News International is keen to settle all of the cases out of court, but indicated that would not be possible.

“It’s appropriate to say at this point in time that News International has indicated a desire to settle litigation completely and settle all the cases,” he said. “But it’s not anticipated that we will be able to settle in every case because some give rise to issues which have to be tried.”

Tomlinson added that it would be sensible to put back the trial date from 13 January.

Several alleged victims of phone hacking by the News of the World want the title’s publisher to speed up its disclosure of “a very large number of deleted emails” between journalists and executives at the title, the high court also heard.

Tomlinson said there is “a big problem” in obtaining the messages from NGN when they are requested.

He wants Mr Justice Vos to require that the publisher must hand over the material to the police and lawyers by a “required end point”.

NGN is trawling through many thousands of emails between journalists in the hunt for key evidence about the use of illicit news gathering techniques at the media group.

Tomlinson told the court the emails are important because they are a second source in addition to the seized notebooks of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator used by NoW.

He said that the “complexion” of the phone-hacking test cases due to be heard next month could be different “if previously deleted emails are produced”.

Jude Law appears to be one of the most serious victims in terms of volume [of alleged intercepts] over a number of years,” Tomlinson told the court. “We’ve not seen one single email relating to Jude Law before 2005 [from NGN] and it is possible that emails were sent.”

The court heard that the delay in disclosing the emails arises from the need for the deleted messages to be “reconstituted” before being handed over.

This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.