Under the headline “Max Clifford drops News of the World phone hacking action in £1m deal” The Guardian reports today that the News of the World has settled the claim brought by the publicist Max Clifford arising out of the interception of voice mail messages. The terms are confidential but it is suggested that a payment of over £1 million was made.
The Guardian suggests the the purpose of the payment is to “buy silence” noting that
The settlement means that there will now be no disclosure of court-ordered evidence which threatened to expose the involvement of the newspaper’s journalists in a range of illegal information-gathering by private investigators.
On 3 February 2010, after a hearing in the High Court, Chancery Division, Mr Justice Vos gave judgment in favour of Mr Clifford in an application for disclosure. The Judge made extensive disclosure orders against private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and News Group Newspapers. We discussed this judgment in a post on 20 February 2010. As a result of the settlement of the action the News of the World will, presumably, no longer be required to give further disclosure. On 24 February 2010 the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport concluded that News International had hacked phones “on an industrial scale” (see our post on the publication of the Report here). These conclusions were extensively reported in the Guardian at the time, but as we mentioned in an earlier post, were ignored by many other newspapers.