On 10 June 2021 a unilateral statement in open court was read in the case of Sir Simon Hughes v News Group Newspapers. This recorded that News Group had agreed to pay substantial damages to settle a claim for unlawful information gathering against The Sun.
Sir Simon had claimed that he had been the victim of unlawful information gathering by various journalists and executives at The Sun and that they had used and circulated private information obtained about him and as a result had published a number of articles.
Disclosed documents had showed that Sun journalists had obtained details from Sir Simon’s itemised home telephone bill including the telephone numbers of friends and colleagues. The Sun had found out which numbers he called most frequently and call times and durations to a specific number.
The context of these documents was what had happened in January 2006 when, in the middle of a contest for the Liberal Democrat leadership Sir Simon was asked to meet a Sun journalist. The journalist had told him that the newspaper had obtained evidence of his private telephone calls and invited him to agree that he had had homosexual relationships. He felt he had no choice but to cooperate and this resulted in a front page story on 26 January 2006 which misrepresented his sexual orientation.
Sir Somon issued a claim form in relation to unlawful information gathering at The Sun on 25 September 2019. News Group issued an application to strike out the claim. After the exchange of evidence News Group offered to settle the claim and a settlement was subsequently agreed. News Group agreed to pay substantial damages and costs and agreed to pay costs. News Group continues to make no admissions as to wrongdoing at The Sun newspaper.
There was a report on Byline Investigates, “The Sun dramatically caves-in on a landmark ‘phone hacking’ case”