Friday, February 24, 2012

#CharlotteChurch Buckles And Bows To The Dirty Digger

News International closed off the first wave of phone-hacking claims last night by reaching a settlement with Charlotte Church – but was immediately told by a High Court judge that a trial date for the second wave of claimants will be set next week.
NI's settlement with the Welsh singer halted the high-profile trial scheduled for Monday, but before its legal team had time to celebrate, Mr Justice Vos announced a new trial date for more alleged victims, including Cherie Blair QC, the wife of the former Prime Minister.

"Vos II" will mirror the legal process that ended with 55 claims, which included a star line-up of actors, politicians and celebrities, all settling out of court. The judge said he was "conscious of the impending trial date that has caused many cases to settle".

For Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and its battered reputation, the pain and the growing legal bill continues. The judge offered no respite when he said: "I'm extremely keen that the momentum of this litigation should not be lost by the fact that the cases that were set for trial are settled."

Reworking the 1966 World Cup final commentary, one lawyer at the centre of the cases remarked: "They think it's all over – but it isn't."

It can also be revealed that fears for her mother's health forced Ms Church to settle her hacking claim against NI out of court, in the face of hardball tactics by Mr Murdoch's lawyers which would have made Maria Church a focus of a trial.

On Monday in the High Court, NI's senior counsel Michael Silverleaf will quickly accept liability for a litany of wrongdoing on behalf of the News of the World that came close to destroying the Church family. The settlement, including costs, is likely to be in the region of £500,000.

But the legal language will barely tell the story. An independent psychiatric evaluation of Mrs Church had recently been carried out, as a pre-trial review had ordered. The legal aim was to determine how much damage the NOTW's intrusive practices had actually more