Hamiltons settle claim over phone hacking

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Former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine yesterday settled their High Court damages actions against News Group Newspapers over the phone hacking scandal.

The Hamiltons both accepted substantial damages and received a public apology at a hearing in London.

Former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie also settled his claim on similar terms.

Hamilton, 64, and his 63-year-old wife were not present at the hearing when lawyers read out statements detailing the settlements. Mr Leslie was also not in court.

The announcement came during the 15th case management conference relating to phone hacking litigation brought by scores of public figures and others.

Mr Justice Vos also heard that a claim brought by the estate of the late Jade Goody had also now been settled.

Jeremy Reed, the lawyer representing the Hamiltons, told Mr Justice Vos that the couple commenced proceedings last year “for misuse of private information and breach of confidence in respect of obtaining their call data by unlawful means”. He said: “These events are believed to have taken place in around late 2001.”

Mr Reed told the court that News Group Newspapers (NGN) “now admits that Mr and Mrs Hamilton’s call data was obtained for the News of the World by unlawful means”.

Dinah Rose QC, for NGN, said: “NGN is here today through me to offer its sincere apologies to Mr Hamilton and Mrs Hamilton for the damage, as well as the distress, caused to each of them by the obtaining of their private and confidential information.

“NGN acknowledges that the information should never have been obtained in the manner it was, and that NGN is liable to each of them for misuse of private information and for breach of confidence.”

Mr Reed told the judge that “in the light of this apology from NGN, Mr Hamilton and Mrs Hamilton consider each of their claims to have been vindicated”.