LONDON (Reuters) - Sienna Miller accepted 100,000 pounds ($162,500) damages and an unconditional admission of liability from a newspaper that snooped on her phone messages, a scandal that embarrassed Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp while it seeks approval for a huge merger.
Miller, the on-and-off girlfriend of fellow Hollywood star Jude Law, was one of the main plaintiffs suing News Corp over allegations reporters at its News of the World tabloid illegally listened to voice messages to get scoops.
The scandal has already cost Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman his job and led to calls for greater oversight of Britain’s ruthlessly competitive news media.
The newspaper said it would also give Miller documents in the case.
Miller was one of more than 20 celebrities, including TV personalities, sports figures and even former cabinet members, suing the News of the World for hiring a private investigator to hack into the voicemail accounts of their mobile phones.
Her case was expected to be one of a handful of lead cases against the newspaper that will set compensation levels for other plaintiffs. The lead cases are expected to be decided at a case-management hearing next week.
Miller’s lawyer issued a statement on Friday saying: “Ms Miller’s primary concern has never been how much money would be awarded by way of compensation but to know exactly what the extent of the hacking was.”
“She has now obtained an order which requires the newspaper to give her the information and documents she wants and that meets all her requirements from this action.”
News International said: “We are pleased that we have managed to bring this case to a satisfactory conclusion. Several weeks ago we admitted liability in certain cases and offered a genuine and unreserved apology.”
“We hope to resolve other cases swiftly.”
The scandal has damaged News Corp’s reputation at a time when it has been seeking government approval for a proposed $14 billion takeover of British pay-TV firm BSkyB. Opponents want the merger blocked pending the outcome of a police probe.
One journalist at the newspaper was jailed in 2007 for illegally snooping on phone messages of a member of the royal household, but the paper maintained until this year that it was an isolated incident.
The police have since reopened the investigation, several journalists have been arrested and the newspaper has apologized. Cameron’s media chief Andy Coulson, who had been the newspaper’s editor at the time when the snooping took place, resigned.
Editing by Peter Graff and Jon Boyle