Rupert Murdoch's News International has apologised in court to many victims of its journalists' phone hacking, including celebrities, priests and politicians.
A total of 144 phone hacking victims have received "sincere" contrition and "substantial" damages from the company, with the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, actors Hugh Grant and Christopher Eccleston, and the Catholic parish priest of singer Charlotte Church, Father Richard Reardon, among the 17 who opted for a courtroom apology.
Colin Stagg, who was wrongly accused of the murder of Rachel Nickell, was awarded damages of £15,500, one of few sums disclosed.
Victims who arranged an entirely private settlement included: Cherie Blair QC, the wife of the former prime minister; UKIP leader Nigel Farage; TV presenters Jamie Theakston and Chris Tarrant; Ted Beckham, the father of the former England football captain David; former Tory minister Lord Blencathra; actor James Nesbitt; footballer Wayne Rooney; and BBC reporter Tom Mangold.
However, some did not settle. About 20 people are expected to reach an agreement in the coming weeks and others may deny News International its wish to draw a line under the affair by pushing for a full trial, according to legal sources who spoke to The Independent.
Hugh Tomlinson, QC, who is representing many of the victims, said that more victims were still being identified by police, and that there could be a wave of up to 100 new complainants.
Those yet to settle their privacy actions with News Group Newspapers, a subsidiary of News International, include: Princess Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell; Chris Eubank; politician Tommy Sheridan; Tara Palmer Tomkinson; entrepreneur Simon Jordan; TV producer Nigel Lythgoe; and former union boss Tony Woodley.
Though the settlement deals have not been made public, lawyers believe that they are will be similar to the £30,000 awarded to MP Chris Bryant and the £50,000 awarded to John Prescott last year in their privacy actions against the newspaper group.
Murdoch's News International plans to separate the tainted newspaper wing of the organisation and create a new company.
Libel law restrictions prevented Hugh Grant from bringing his case to full trial, he tweeted after the hearing, and announced he was donating his settlement to the Hacked Off charity, which campaigns for tighter press regulation.
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