News Corp. Phone-Hacking Victims Plan to File U.S. Suit Against Directors

News Corp. (NWSA) directors will be sued in the U.S. by victims of phone hacking by reporters at the News of the World tabloid, a lawyer said.

Legal action will be started in the U.S. within 10 days, Mark Lewis, a lawyer representing phone-hacking victims in London, said in an interview broadcast on Sky News today.

Lewis represents phone-hacking victims including the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Revelations that Dowler’s mobile-phone messages were deleted while she was missing in 2002 led to the closure of the News of the World and forced News Corp. to drop a takeover bid for British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. (BSY)

U.S. lawyers will make the final decisions on the defendants to include in the lawsuit, Lewis said in a separate interview on BBC News. He said that lawyers are looking at areas that should have been part of the knowledge of directors of a large corporation. Lawyers would seek to speak with News Corp. (NWS) Chairman Rupert Murdoch and Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch, Lewis said.

Miranda Higham, a spokeswoman for News Corp. in London, declined to comment on the U.S. lawsuits. Lewis didn’t immediately return a call from Bloomberg News seeking comment.

Dowler Claims

News Corp. agreed to pay 3 million pounds ($4.6 million) to the Dowlers and a charity to settle the family’s claims, a person with knowledge of the matter said this week. Rupert Murdoch was personally involved in the negotiations, the person said.

Mark Thomson, a lawyer who represents U.K. phone-hacking victims including Jude Law and Hugh Grant, said in an e-mail that none of his clients are taking part in a New York lawsuit.

At least 16 people have been arrested in the U.K. police probe into hacking, including Andy Coulson, an ex-News of the World editor who also served as Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications chief, and Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. publishing unit.

News Corp., which faces a U.K. parliamentary probe of phone hacking by its employees, is also the subject of criminal investigations in the U.S.

U.S. prosecutors are examining whether employees of Rupert Murdoch’s company tried to access the voicemails of 9-11 victims, broke antitrust or related laws and, according to a person familiar with the probe, bribed U.K. police for information.

The third line of inquiry was disclosed in a U.S. letter to the company requesting information on any bribes paid by its News of the World unit, said the person, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public. The letter is part of a Justice Department effort to determine whether News Corp. violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, the person said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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

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