As past bad behaviour starts to catch up with more than one of the tabloid titles that make up our free and fearless press, news has emerged - but only in Press Gazette and the Guardian, you understand - that the Mirror titles may be significantly worse off after having to pay out not only damages, but also legal fees, over phone hacking claims. But the worst news for those titles is where some of those damages are ending up.
The Press Gazette report tells “Elizabeth Hurley is the latest celebrity to receive damages and an apology from Mirror Group Newspapers over phone-hacking … The amount of damages was not made public at the brief hearing before Mr Justice Mann”. Who benefits from that damages payment? “Her solicitor, Anjlee Saigol, told the judge Hurley had donated the ‘substantial’ sum to Hacked Off ‘to assist other victims of the press’”.
That’s going to hurt. And Ms Hurley was not the only one receiving damages: “Last month, Lord Jeffrey Archer and Dame Mary Archer, footballer Kevin Keegan, former home secretary Charles Clarke, actress Patsy Kensit, Jo Wood, the ex-wife of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, and singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor were among 44 cases which were resolved”. So how much does the campaigning group receive?
Ah well. That we don’t know, although Press Gazette does a little nudging and winking as it continues “It is understood that some of the settlements exceeded the £260,250 record damages awarded to actress and businesswoman Sadie Frost following a trial in 2015”. Evan Harris and his team will be pleased. And the Guardian goes further.
“Elizabeth Hurley accepts phone-hacking damages from Mirror newspapers … Actor and model is thought to have received more than the record £260,250 company paid fellow victim Sadie Frost” they claim, going on to report “The sum was not made public at the brief hearing at the high court in London on Wednesday … Frost’s payout was at the time believed to be the single biggest privacy damages payout since the phone-hacking scandal broke in 2010, although it is understood to have since been surpassed in several settlement deals that have not been made public”.
And in news that may not be well received by former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, the Guardian article goes on to say “Hurley had brought proceedings over the publication of 58 separate articles, published between July 1998 and March 2007 by all three of MGN’s newspapers”. That means the Daily Mirror was also involved.
So it will be interesting to see if Morgan arranges for Ms Hurley, or indeed any of the Hacked Off principals, to guest on Good Morning Britain so he can reiterate all those claims about not having knowingly published any stories based wholly or in part on hacked information. Because if the Mirror titles were all going after Liz Hurley, one might have thought the editors of those titles would want to be sure of their ground.
Still, excellent news that Ms Hurley has set a fine example to other claimants. Donate your damages to Hacked Off, folks. It hurts the press even more than making the payment.