46 claims filed in second wave of legal action

LONDON With Rupert and James Murdoch expected to give more evidence to the Leavesdon inquiry into phone hacking in London this week, News Intl., the U.K. newspaper arm of News Corp., is facing a further 46 civil lawsuits over the allegations, including one filed by Cherie Blair, the wife of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Hugh Tomlinson, who reps a slew of claimants, revealed the new suits at the High Court in London on Friday during a procedural hearing ahead of a phone-hacking trial scheduled for February.

This brings the total number of cases to more than 100. News Intl. has already settled some 60 filed before the court’s first deadline last fall, including those from singer Charlotte Church and thesp Jude Law.

Among other recent claimants are singer James Blunt, TV presenter Jamie Theakston, actor James Nesbitt, comedian Bobby Davro and soccer player David Beckham’s father, Ted.

Tomlinson pointed out that the London Metropolitan Police had identified 1,174 likely victims in its probe of alleged phone hacking by staff at News Intl.’s now-defunct tabloid the News of the World.

A number of journalists at News Intl. tabloid The Sun have also been questioned on suspicion of bribing public officials.

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