Claims that Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloids hacked Jude Law’s phone and placed him under “repeated and sustained physical surveillance” have won the actor a settlement worth about $200,000. Law was among 36 high-profile hacking victims whose cases were settled today in British court by the Murdoch-owned publisher News Group Newspapers, with other winners including British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and soccer player Ashley Cole.
News Corp.’s now-shuttered News of the World admitted that sixteen articles about Law between 2003 and 2006 contained information obtained through phone hacking, and that articles in The Sun misused Law’s personal information. They also ‘fessed up to hacking his phone at JFK Airport — on U.S. soil — in a tidbit bound to be obsessed over by close-watchers of the phone-hacking scandal, who often wonder aloud if News Corp.’s wrongdoing stretched across the Atlantic in a punishable way. (The company remains accused of no crimes in the United States.)
News Group’s lawyer expressed “sincere apologies” after each statement today, as victims discussed the “distrust and suspicion” brought on by the phone hacking. Statements from victims who settled today also fanned further flames of conspiracy by claiming that the crimes against them had been covered up. “News Group has agreed to compensation being assessed on the basis that senior employees and directors of NGN knew about the wrongdoing and sought to conceal it by deliberately deceiving investigators and destroying evidence,” one statement said.
The company was facing 60 lawsuits, but police have said there could be over 6,000 total victims. “While congratulations are due to those [lawyers] and clients who have settled their cases, it is important that we don’t get carried away into thinking that the war is over,” said Mark Lewis, who represents many phone-hacking victims. “Fewer than 1 percent of the people who were hacked have settled their cases. There are many more cases in the pipeline. … This is too early to celebrate, we’re not even at the end of the beginning.”