News of the World faces rush of phone hack claims

Sat Apr 9, 2011 6:29pm EDT
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By Tim Castle

LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch's British news arm faces a rush of fresh compensation claims and could be exposed to criminal prosecution after admitting its role in a long-running phone hacking scandal, lawyers said on Saturday.

"There will be a massive flood of people contacting lawyers," said lawyer Charlotte Harris of law firm Mishcon de Reya.

News International, parent company of Britain's top-selling News of the World tabloid, said on Friday it would admit liability and pay compensation in eight cases -- although many more people believe they were targeted.

The admission was an about-turn from the media group's previous denial that it knew journalists were hacking the phones of the royal family, politicians, celebrities and sports stars, blaming a handful of "rogue reporters" for the scandal.

Those who will receive an "unreserved apology" from the group, part of Murdoch's global media empire News Corp, include actress Sienna Miller and politician Tessa Jowell.

Miller's lawyer, Mark Thomson, said she would continue with her action and had not accepted any offer of settlement.

"Her primary concern is to discover the whole truth and for all those responsible to be held to account," he said.

Mishcon de Reya's Harris, acting for five of the 24 individuals with active court cases against the News of the World, said some of her clients had been contacted by News International and were considering their options.   Continued...