Mirror’s publisher allots £4m for hacking civil claims

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Publisher Trinity Mirror has set aside £4m to deal with civil claims over phone-hacking allegations, the group has disclosed.

It is the first time that the company, which is now facing 17 claims, has set out a specific sum for these matters, and details are included in its half-year results.

The £4m adds to an amount understood to be in the “low single digit” millions that has already been put aside.

Trinity Mirror has previously acknowledged the ongoing impact of “historical legal issues”, including direct financial impact from legal claims, damage to reputation and distraction to senior management.

The latest disclosure came as the group said it had performed better than expected in the half year to June 29 and was on course to pay a dividend for 2014, the first for shareholders since 2008.

In a legal update, Trinity said it continued to co-operate with police over Operation Elveden – the probe into alleged inappropriate payments to public officials – and Operation Golding – the investigation into alleged phone hacking.

It added: “The group is aware of a number of civil claims from individuals in relation to phone hacking. In the first half we have provided £4m to cover the cost of dealing with and resolving claims.

“It remains uncertain as to how these matters will progress, whether further allegations or claims will be made, and their financial impact.”

Last week, reporter Dan Evans was given a suspended prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiring to hack phones.

One charge related to his time at the Sunday Mirror between 2003 and 2005, the other to his subsequent employment at the News of the World.

In yesterday’s interim results, Trinity said adjusted profit before tax fell 2.2 per cent to £48.2m.

The company said print revenues declined by 4.3 per cent, a lower drop than the 6.7 per cent fall in the previous year.

The Daily Mirror saw a 7.4 per cent drop in copies shifted, better than the average for the UK national daily tabloid market.

The market for regional titles remained “difficult”, Trinity added, with paid-for dailies down 13.4 per cent.