News Int could settle hacking claims today

NEWS International, the British arm of News Corp that includes the now-defunct News of the World, is close to settling many of the high-profile phone-hacking cases brought against it, lawyers for the victims have said.

A spokeswoman for News International declined to comment ahead of a pre-trial hearing, which is due to take place this morning in front of a judge who is set to begin hearing test cases next month.

Many settlements are expected to be announced today, subject to the approval of the judge, Geoffrey Vos.

Gerald Shamash, a lawyer who is representing five high-profile victims including retired football star Paul Gascoigne, said all of his claims were being settled, although the deals would probably not be announced as early as today’s hearing.

“We are in the process of settling them,” he told Reuters.

Shamash’s other clients with claims against News International are former spin doctor Alastair Campbell, Phil Hughes, agent to late soccer star George Best, former government minister Elliot Morley and Jimmy Gardner, a friend of Gascoigne’s.

News International launched a compensation scheme in November for victims of phone-hacking.