Murdoch company to pay hacking victims

Jude Law among victims to receive payout

Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. arm News Intl. has paid damages to 36 victims of phone hacking, include actor Jude Law, his former wife Sadie Frost and former British deputy prime minister John Prescott.

Statements were read in court in London on Thursday on behalf of victims of defunct Sunday tabloid the News of the World, who have been paid a total of £645,000 ($996,726).

In a statement, Law, who received $200,000 plus costs, said: “I was truly appalled by what I was shown by the police and by what my lawyers have discovered. No aspect of my private life was safe from intrusion, including the lives of my children and the people who work for me It was not just that my phone messages were listened to: News Group also paid people to watch me and my house for days at a time and to follow me and those close to me both in this country and abroad.”

Frost was awarded $77,000, Prescott $62,000.

The payments were thought to reflect the intensity and the length of time the paper spent hacking victims’ phones, emails and computers.

Lawyers for the victim also alleged that unnamed directors at News Group Newspapers, the Murdoch subsidiary that controlled the News of the World, tried to destroy evidence relating to the affair.

Beginning in April 2008, the directors of NGN were led by James Murdoch, who in November was ordered to appear before a parliamentary committee for a second time after two of his execs contradicted his testimony about what he knew regarding phone hacking and when he found out the practice was widespread.

News Intl. declined to comment on the payments, but 10 more cases are ready for court proceedings out of a total of some 800, suggesting the company’s legal bill could run into many millions of dollars.