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News Corp.’s Sun ‘Spied’ on Soccer Star in Clinic, Lawsuit Says

Former soccer player Paul Gascoigne accused News Corp.’s the Sun newspaper of spying on him while he was at a clinic receiving treatment for alcohol addiction.

Gascoigne, who is separately suing over phone hacking at News Corp.’s News of the World, said in a June 29 court filing that the Sun paid two people to spy on him while he was in a rehabilitation facility. The former member of the English national soccer team is suing for breach of privacy and libel over articles appearing in the Sun in July 2010.

The articles “caused such distress that the challenge of rehabilitation became ever more difficult,” Gascoigne said in the lawsuit.

The allegations come as News Corp. fights to contain the scandal engulfing its U.K. publishing arm over the conduct of journalists and investigators at the News of the World tabloid. New York-based News Corp. closed the 168-year-old tabloid last month and ordered an internal investigation following allegations reporters and investigators hacked into the messages of celebrities, crime victims and a murdered schoolgirl.

News Corp.’s News International unit, publisher of the Sun, paid two people described as “locals” to spy on Gascoigne while he was receiving medical treatment at the clinic in Bournemouth, England, his lawyers said in the court filing.

News International hasn’t received any notification about Gascoigne’s claim that he was spied on, a company spokesman said in a phone interview. Gerald Shamash, a lawyer for Gascoigne, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail.

Phone-Hacking Case

In separate suit against the U.K. unit, Gascoigne is one of five celebrities, politicians and athletes suing News International over claims the News of the World illegally intercepted voice mail messages to write stories. A test case is scheduled to be heard in January.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is under investigation by police and two parliamentary committees over phone hacking at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, and allegations that the newspaper bribed police for confidential information.

Police opened a third investigation over the weekend into computer hacking and breach of privacy allegations by News International that fall outside of the remit of the current phone hacking probe. The new investigation, dubbed Operation Tuleta, stems from allegations received by the police since January.

The case is: Paul John Gascoigne v. News Group Newspapers Ltd., No. HQ11002403 High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division.

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