Murdoch Wedding Singer Sues News Corp. Over Phone Hacking

Murdoch Wedding Singer Sues News Corp. Over Phone Hacking
Singer Charlotte Church, right, leaves with her lawyer David Sherborne after giving evidence to The Leveson Inquiry at The Royal Courts of Justice in November 2011. Photographer: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The British pop star who sang at News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s wedding in 1999, when she was 13 years old, sued the company over claims its News of the World tabloid later hacked into her voice mails to get stories.

The lawsuit by Charlotte Church and her parents, James and Maria, was filed last month in London and made public this week. She is suing News Corp.’s U.K. publishing unit and its former private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed for phone hacking in 2007 and re-arrested last month in a new probe.

Church, 25, told a judge-led inquiry into press ethics in November that another News Corp. tabloid, The Sun, may have intercepted her messages to report her pregnancy in a 2007 news article, before she’d told her friends and family. Police gave Church proof Mulcaire and the News of the World targeted her phone starting when she was 17 years old, she told the inquiry.

News Corp., based in New York, closed the News of the World in July to help contain public anger after it was revealed the 168-year-old tabloid hacked into the voice mails of a murdered school girl in 2002. About 70 lawsuits have been filed by celebrities, politicians, athletes and other public figures whose phones were allegedly hacked by the tabloid.

“The only claim issued at the moment is in relation to News of the World,” Church’s lawyer, Mike Brookes at Lee & Thompson in London, said in an e-mail.

A group of six “test cases,” including a complaint by actor Jude Law, is scheduled to go to trial next month, to help calculate damage awards. Police have said about 800 people may have had their messages hacked.

‘Looked Upon Favorably’

At the inquiry, Church said she waived her 100,000-pound ($154,290) fee for singing at Murdoch’s wedding in New York, because she was told she would “be looked upon favorably by Mr. Murdoch’s papers.” The tabloids still targeted her, she said, including the Sun’s website, which she said had a “countdown” clock to her age of sexual consent.

Daisy Dunlop, a spokeswoman for London-based News International, which publishes the tabloids, declined to comment on the new lawsuit. The company has denied Church was offered favorable coverage for waiving the performance fee, or that the Sun had a countdown clock to her 16th birthday.

Church believes a voice mail from her doctor may have been intercepted when she was pregnant because no one else knew about the development at the time other than her partner, she said at the inquiry being overseen by Judge Brian Leveson. The inquiry is separate from the lawsuits and three related police investigations, which have yielded more than 20 arrests.

Church, a Welsh soprano, was a child prodigy when she sang at the 2002 closing ceremony for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, among other events. She was on a 2010 Sunday Times Rich List of young music millionaires.

The case is Church v. NGN Ltd., High Court of Justice Queens Bench, Case No. HQ11D04687.

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