Coogan, Gray, Can’t Prove News of the World Hacking, Lawyer Says

Two celebrities who claim their mobile-phone voice mail messages were hacked by an investigator for News Corp.’s News of the World may have “jumped on the bandwagon,” a lawyer for the U.K. Sunday newspaper told a London court.

Steve Coogan, an actor who appeared in the movie Tropic Thunder, and Andy Gray, a sports commentator, have brought a case full of “inference,” without enough evidence to support it, the news organization’s lawyer Anthony Hudson said today. Coogan and Gray can’t prove their phones were hacked, he said. “One hesitates to say that they have jumped on the bandwagon, but it has the appearance of that.”

Coogan and Gray are part of a growing list of celebrities suing the newspaper in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. Coogan last month won an order from a London judge allowing him to get documents from police related to their probe of the alleged phone hacking.

Coogan and Gray’s lawyer, Jeremy Reed, is seeking to amend their claims to allege that journalists obtained commercially important information through hacking.

Justice Geoffrey Vos, hearing the case, said that it would likely collapse if he accepted Hudson’s argument that the pair can’t prove that any information was obtained.

“If you win the point that there is no evidence of interception, then the case in reality is at an end,” he said.

Last week London’s Metropolitan Police, which reopened a probe into phone hacking for the third time last month, said they are reviewing the new evidence and documents seized in an earlier case in 2005.

Gray was fired from his broadcasting job at Sky Sports last month after making sexist remarks about a female soccer referee. Sky Sports is part of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc, which is also partially owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Lumley in London at jlumley1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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