Davina McCall, a TV presenter, and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, a celebrity socialite, are among seven victims of phone hacking who have resolved to take their claims to trial, the FT has learnt, turning down compensation offers from the publisher of the now defunct News of the World newspaper.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing phone-hacking victims, said in a court hearing on Friday that 26 cases had yet to accept compensation awards and that of these, seven “appeared to be definitely going to trial”.
He added that he expected more cases to come to the high court after News International’s formal compensation scheme closes in April.
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, and actor Hugh Grant were among 144 people who settled out of court with NI, following a concerted effort by the publisher of The Sun and The Times to resolve complaints at the end of last year.
The duchess and Mr Grant were also among 17 victims who demanded a public apology from News International, in addition to damages. NI made that apology on Friday.
In statements read out in court, the victims expressed surprise at how information about their private lives had come to be published in the News of the World.
A statement from Christopher Eccleston, the former Doctor Who actor, said he was “shocked and distressed” to hear from the police that his voicemail had been hacked on 16 occasions.
A statement read on behalf of the Duchess of York said she had experienced “unusual activity” on her mobile phone from 2000 to 2006 and that “journalists and/or photographers appeared to know her location in advance”.
Mark Thomson, solicitor at law firm Atkins Thomson, representing Mr Grant, said on Friday that the actor had donated his damages payment to Hacked Off, a pressure group that represents hacking victims.
He said Mr Grant had wanted to proceed to trial but had been prevented from doing so by the “Part 36” rule governing court proceedings. This rule stipulates that if claimants proceed to trial but win a damages award in court that is lower than their previous compensation offer, they are liable for the defendant's related legal costs.
This rule, combined with a wave of more generous offers from News International in the run-up to Christmas, has encouraged many claimants to settle.