In support of the claim that they should recover “aggravated damages”, the Claimants relied on what David Sherborne described as the deliberate impression that he been given that no unlawful activity had taken place at Mirror Group papers and what he described as
deliberately crafted disingenuous statements made on behalf of Mirror Group during the Leveson Inquiry and in public statements which have been made, following the instigation of complaints about voicemail interception.
In relation to Alan Yentob, the Court was told that Mirror Group journalists called him thousands of times when he had no legitimate reason to speak to any of them. Mr Yentob was of interest because he was the BBC Creative Director at the time and responsible for East Enders and Strictly Come Dancing which were of great interest to the tabloid press.
The Court was told that 16 or so journalists from all three MGN national newspapers were intercepting Mr Yentob’s voicemails. Mr Sherborne suggested that these voicemails were
like an Aladdin’s cave of Arabian Nights fame in terms of the stories … produced for these journalists
The Court was also told about the case of Robert Ashworth, a freelance journalist and TV producer who was, at the time, married to Tracy Shaw, a Coronation Street actress. Mirror Group newspapers wrote extensively about the couple’s relationship and the time and, in particular, about Ms Shaw’s battle with alcohol and eating disorders. This was the subject of 19 separate articles over 3 to 4 years. These articles were said to contain intimate information obtained by listening to voicemails.
It is expected that closing submissions will finish on Friday and that evidence will then be heard from Mr Yentob.
There are eight representative claimants: TV executive Alan Yentob, soap stars Shane Richie, Shobna Gulati and Lucy Benjamin, TV producer Robert Ashworth, actress Sadie Frost, former footballer Paul Gascoigne and flight attendant Lauren Alcorn.