Phone hacking: Murdoch pays out millions of pounds

Media baron Rupert Murdoch's group today agreed to a multi-million pounds out-of-court-settlement with 19 high-profile victims who had filed cases when they realised their phones had been hacked by thenow defunct News of the World.

Ex-Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott and actor Jude Law are among those who have agreed to the settlement.

Footballer Ashley Cole and Labour MP Chris Bryant have also reached settlements.

Most people pursuing damages from the paper's publisher News International had now settled, lawyers said.

Hearings in the cases were due to start on February 13, but this may not take place in relation to the cases launched by the 19 individuals.

Overall, the settlement against the individuals is likely to cost Murdoch's company around 10 million pounds.

The level of payments made today is likely to influence future claims against the now defunct tabloid from potentially hundreds of victims of phone-hacking.

Scotland Yard has said that there were 742 victims of phone-hacking, some of whom are yet to be contacted.

The settlements reached today included Labour MP Chris Bryant and Alistair Campbell, former aide of prime minister Tony Blair.

Murdoch's group had earlier paid millions of pounds to the family of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler, whose phone was allegedly hacked.

It was the report of Milly's phone being hacked that set off a chain of events last summer, leading to several changes in British press, politics and the police.

The group had settled similar claims in December with seven individuals, including former army officer, James Hewitt.

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