Sienna Miller’s News of the World Lawsuit Abusive, Newspaper’s Lawyer Says

Actress Sienna Miller’s lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper must be dismissed as abusive, a lawyer for the newspaper told a London judge.

The actress has been offered 100,000 pounds ($163,000) by News Corp. (NWS)’s U.K. unit to settle the suit over allegations her mobile phone was hacked into by journalists at the newspaper.

The sum is far more than she could hope to receive if the case goes to trial, Michael Silverleaf, the newspaper’s lawyer, told judge Geoffrey Vos at a hearing today. The paper admitted liability for the wrongdoing Miller claims and offered her money, so there is nothing left for the court to decide, Silverleaf said. The case should continue only if Miller’s lawyers can show she’s entitled to more than 100,000 pounds, an amount he said U.K. courts award only for serious injuries.

“Is it really right that she should get more from this than if she had lost the sight of an eye or suffered severe facial scarring?” Silverleaf asked.

Miller, 29, is one of more than 20 celebrities and politicians suing New York-based News Corp. (NWSA) over the more than four-year-old phone-hacking scandal. The company apologized and offered to settle some of the cases last month after two journalists linked to the paper were arrested.

Silverleaf rejected suggestion by Miller’s lawyers in court documents that she might be entitled to as much as 400,000 pounds. Former Formula 1 president Max Mosley won a record 60,000 pounds in damages from the News of the World in 2009 over a story claiming he engaged in a Nazi-themed sex party. Mosley has said the party had no Nazi overtones.

‘Appalling Invasion’

“That was a huge and appalling invasion -- the consequences of that invasion is that they ruined Mr. Mosley’s life,” Silverleaf said. “We are nowhere near that.”

Miller’s lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson, said that it was “nice to hear the News of the World admitting how bad the damage they did to Mr. Mosley was.”

He argued the Mosley complaint related to one article while Miller was complaining about multiple articles and breaches of privacy, adding it is impossible to assess damages without more information from the News of the World.

“The crucial thing from our point of view is to know what happened,” Tomlinson said. “She needs to know what the full extent of the wrongdoing was.”

In a separate hearing today, former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott asked the High Court to rule a police investigation into phone hacking at the paper was “seriously inadequate.”

Prescott, along with lawmaker Chris Bryant, former Metropolitan Police Commander Brian Paddick and journalist Brendan Montague were asking the court for permission to bring a “judicial review” of the proceedings.

Judicial review is a legal mechanism which examines the decision-making process of public bodies. Justice David Foskett said he would give his ruling at a later date.

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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