A group of ’90s pop stars are among the latest to launch phone hacking lawsuits against Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, as the scandal that has haunted the company for more than 15 years continues to roar in front of the media. High Court.
Melanie Chisholm of Spice Girls, Shane Lynch of Boyzone, Hannah Spearritt of S Club 7, and Ian Watkins and Lee Latchford-Evans of Steps recently filed complaints against the company.
The cases are a reminder that while Murdoch tries to rekindle his reputation in the UK with the launch of his national television channel talkTV, his company continues to shell out millions of pounds a year to sort out historic cases of illegal interception of messages. vocal.
The company is also involved in a phone hacking case brought by Prince Harry, who alleged his voicemail messages were targeted by The Sun and News of the World. Murdoch’s lawyers admitted Harry’s phone was hacked by News of the World reporters, but say he learned about it in 2006, meaning he missed the statute of limitations six years to wear such cases. They deny claims that his phone was targeted by journalists working for The Sun.
Murdoch’s decision to hire Piers Morgan as talkTV’s lead presenter will also refocus attention on the use of phone hacking when Morgan was Editor-in-Chief of The Mirror. Phone hacking was widely practiced by Mirror reporters at the time, and Morgan has previously discussed eavesdropping on voicemail messages left by Sir Paul McCartney. However, he has always firmly denied any personal involvement or knowledge of the illegal collection of information.
The pop stars’ new cases of the 1990s were brought against Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers subsidiary, the legal owner of The Sun and the now defunct News of the World. Murdoch has spent hundreds of millions of pounds on legal fees over the past decade to settle similar cases. This helped ensure that the allegations were not tested in potentially embarrassing public trials.
News UK declined to comment on the latest cases.
Despite repeated claims in court hearings that phone hacking was used extensively in the Sun, the company has repeatedly insisted that the practice does not occur in the daily tabloid. Even settlements made specifically in relation to allegations of wrongdoing at The Sun are usually accompanied by a statement from News UK insisting that such hacking was limited to News of the World.
However, Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes recently won a case explicitly relating to articles published by The Sun under the direction of Rebekah Brooks, who is now in charge of all British Murdoch media. When asked about Brooks’ involvement in the story, Hughes said outside court that he would not name names, but “it is clear from everything I have seen that it has reached the top of the line. Sun”.