Tuesday 2 June 2020 3:48 pm

News Group hit with 45 new phone hacking claims

Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers has been hit with 45 new phone hacking legal claims in the last week, court filings reveal.

The Sun-owner has had 85 claims issued against it for phone hacking since May 2018, data from litigation analytics company Solomonic shows.

The latest batch of claimants includes Hollywood star Johnny Depp, TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher, former Australian cricketer Shane Warne, actor Sean Bean, the estate of late singer Amy Winehouse, ex-Formula One driver David Coulthard, TV presenter Melinda Messenger, Libertines singer Carl Barat, former England football captain John Terry and former England footballer Paul Gascoigne.

A claim form lodged by Messenger shows she is asking for an injunction to restrain News Group from obtaining private information from her mobile phone or attempting to access her voicemails.

Messenger also claims damages of up to £100,000 for misuse of private information gained by accessing her voicemail or by so-called blagging by private investigators.

Blagging is where investigators or journalists pose as the target person or someone working for them to obtain confidential information about that person from organisations such as banks, schools and health insurance companies.

The claims come before a court date in October, however, it is likely the claims will be settled out of court.

Solomonic data shows News Group Newspapers has gone to trial just twice in 34 cases (5.9 per cent) over the last six years.

News Group closed its Sunday paper News of the World in 2011 following the unveiling of the phone hacking scandal.

News Group Newspapers fell to a loss of £68m in its most recently available annual accounts to June 2019 after forking out £54m on legal costs and damages.

Sir Elton John, Heather Mills and Elizabeth Hurley were among the celebrities to secure payouts for phone hacking last year.

Today, News Group said its new Times Radio venture which is launching on 29 June had added veteran broadcaster Mariella Frostrup to its roster of presenters.

News Group declined to comment.