Charlotte Church settles hacking claim

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Charlotte Church has settled her phone-hacking damages action against News Group Newspapers (NGN) just days before it was to go to trial.

The case was scheduled to be heard on Monday when Mr Justice Vos was due to consider claims by the singer and her parents that 33 articles in the now defunct News of the World (NoW) were the product of hacking into voicemails.

Ms Church, 25, recently spoke of press intrusion into her private life at the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics.

The singer told the inquiry led by Lord Justice Leveson that her mother attempted suicide after finding out the NoW was about to run a story about her husband’s affair.

The mother-of-two also spoke of her distress after the Sun revealed her first pregnancy before she had told her family.

At a hearing on Monday the judge is expected to establish a compensation framework for future cases.

It is understood it will also see the disposal of the five cases still outstanding of the 60 claims launched before October last year. They include those of Elle Macpherson’s former adviser, Mary Ellen Field, footballer Ryan Giggs and former royal butler Paul Burrell.

The judge will also determine how pending claims should be dealt with and, if necessary, fix a date for any future trial.

NGN is also believed to be facing a claim from Cherie Blair after lawyers for the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed on Wednesday they have issued a claim on her behalf.

The revelation of the Church settlement came during an application by the Guardian newspaper for disclosure of some documents in the case, which was partly resisted by counsel for Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the heart of the affair.

The judge said he hoped to give his ruling on that issue on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson has been denied permission to appeal against a High Court decision that NGN does not have to pay his potential legal costs over the phone-hacking affair.

Mr Coulson reportedly put his detached south London house on the market for £1.6m after the original ruling in December in which Mr Justice Supperstone rejected his bid and ordered him to pay NGN’s costs.

His lawyers argued that a clause in his severance deal meant NGN should pay professional costs and expenses incurred by him “in defending allegations of criminal conduct” during his tenure as editor.

The decision to deny him permission to appeal appears to mean the end of the battle by Mr Coulson, Prime Minister David Cameron’s former communications chief, to get News of the World publisher NGN to cover any fees.