Settlements in phone hack scandal nets big pay day for aides, publicists, relatives

For the first time News Corp. execs admit condoning years-long pattern of phone hacks

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News Corp. has reportedly settled 36 of the 60 lawsuits filed against it as a result of the phone-hacking scandal that forced it to close the tabloid News of the World last year following revelations that NOTW, reporters routinely hacked the cell-phone voice mails of celebrities and political figures for more than 10 years.

Rumors, accusations and mini-scandals swirled around the paper during most of the late '90s and through the past decade. Top editors at News of the World and News Corp. executives consistently blamed all the problems on a single rogue reporter who went to jail in 2007 for breaking in to the voice mail of aides to members of the royal family.

Much of the breakthrough came due to pressure from a coalition of victims' lawyers from a dozen firms who banded together to battle News Corp., the largest media company in the world. (Reuters' guide to News. Corp. hacking scandal is here.)

Among the revelations that came from pooling and sifting through evidence made available to individual victims was a set of documents demonstrating News. Corp. executives had tried to destroy evidence corroborating the victims' stories, according to the British paper The Daily Mail.

Lawyers for the victims told the story to a British court just before announcing the first of the settlements the Daily Mail reported.

Despite years of energetic denials, News Corp. executives have changed their tune.

The settlements with stars such as Jude Law and Marissa Miller, and the mother of slain schoolgirl Sarah Payne included an admission from News Corp. execs that they and top editors knew about and condoned the phone hacking, according to lawyers for victims who have already settled claims against the company.

Photo Credit: 

Reuters

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