Chelsea Defender Ashley Cole Sues News Corp., Alleging Telephone Hacking

England soccer player Ashley Cole sued News Corp. (NWSA)’s U.K. unit and the private investigator who was jailed for hacking into celebrities’ voice mails to get scoops for the News of the World tabloid.

Cole, 30, sued the New York-based company and Glenn Mulcaire yesterday in the High Court in London, joining more than two dozen public figures who filed similar lawsuits, including actor Sienna Miller and former U.K. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

“We were always suspicious about the extent to which people were under surveillance” by the newspaper, Cole’s lawyer, Graham Shear of Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP in London, said today in a phone interview.

Evidence produced in the civil phone-hacking lawsuits triggered the latest police investigation, opened in January. Revelations that the paper deleted messages on the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler led to News Corp. shuttering the Sunday tabloid and abandoning its bid for all of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. (BSY)

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, James, gave testimony to a parliamentary committee investigating phone hacking at the newspaper and potential police bribery.

Shear, who has represented celebrities in defamation lawsuits against newspapers for more than 20 years, sued News Corp. in April over claims his phone was hacked to intercept confidential client-attorney communications.

Cheryl Cole

The lawyer represented Cole in his divorce last year from singer Cheryl Cole, who was briefly a judge alongside Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul on the U.S. version of Britain’s “X- Factor” talent show on News Corp.’s Fox network.

News Corp. faces a trial in January, when the court will decide how much the company should pay in damages to five other victims, including actor Jude Law. News International has agreed to pay about 100,000 pounds ($164,000) to Miller and another 20,000 pounds to sports commentator Andy Gray.

News International spokeswoman Daisy Dunlop didn’t return a call for comment.

The case is: Ashley Cole v. Newsgroup Newspaper Ltd., No. HC11C02525, High Court of Justice Chancery Division.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

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

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