London’s Metropolitan Police, which is probing phone hacking at News Corp. (NWSA)’s News of the World tabloid, won a U.K. court ruling to avoid informing hundreds of victims about a judicial review of police handling of evidence.
Lawyers for U.K. Labour party lawmaker Chris Bryant and four other public figures had sought to force Scotland Yard to tell 452 possible phone-hacking victims that they can join the case. Judge John Laws denied the request at a hearing today in London.
Many of the victims are “likely already to know about the proceedings,” Laws said. Some people who were contacted earlier by police “do not wish to be contacted again” and may not want the publicity associated with the case, he said.
The judicial review runs parallel to more than 60 civil lawsuits filed against Rupert Murdoch’s British unit since evidence in one case revealed phone-hacking was more widespread than the company admitted. The scandal forced News Corp. to close the 168-year-old tabloid and drop its bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. (BSY)
Bryant and the other claimants in the judicial review, including former U.K. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, seek court declaration that the police should have started an investigation sooner and alerted people whose phones may have been hacked. Bryant has said police colluded with the News of the World to mislead lawmakers.
Notes seized from former News of the World private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in 2006 contained the names of as many as 6,500 people whose phones may have been hacked or were associated with potential targets. Police didn’t start alerting the people systematically until this year.
News Corp. faces a trial in January, when the court will decide how much the company should pay in damages to five victims in a so-called test case, including actor Jude Law. News Corp. has agreed to pay about 100,000 pounds ($153,000) to actor Sienna Miller and another 20,000 pounds to sports commentator Andy Gray.
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