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Murdoch Wedding Singer Church Settles U.K. Phone-Hacking Lawsuit

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Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Charlotte Church, the Welsh pop star who sang at Rupert Murdoch’s wedding in 1999, settled a lawsuit against News Corp. days before the first trial over the phone-hacking scandal was scheduled to begin.

Terms of the settlement will be disclosed at a court hearing next week in London, a spokesman for Church said in an e-mailed statement.

News Corp., which shuttered the News of the World in July in an attempt to contain public anger, still faces possible claims by more than 800 likely victims identified by police. Cherie Blair, the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, sued the New York-based company this week.

Church’s trial was scheduled to determine damages in future lawsuits over phone hacking. A trial would make more details of the News of the World’s phone hacking public, possibly embarrassing the company as it seeks to launch a new Sunday edition of the Sun to replace the News of the World.

Church, 26, and her parents, James and Maria, sued in December after the Metropolitan Police showed them evidence the News of the World’s ex-private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed for phone hacking, had intercepted their phone messages in 2003, 2005 and 2006 to write stories about them.

The singer, whose 2005 song “Crazy Chick” reached No. 2 on the U.K. pop charts, told a separate judge-led inquiry into press ethics in November that the evidence includes “many pages of names, numbers, notes, addresses, pin numbers and the fact that my mother and I were each a ‘project.”’

Judge Geoffrey Vos, who has said a trial would benefit everyone involved, created a grid of “test cases” last year for the trial, choosing six lead claims and dozens of backups to take their places if they settled. News International has pushed settlements with the lead victims and their backups, leaving Church’s case the only one ready for trial.

Actor Jude Law took 130,000 pounds ($204,200) to drop his claim last month. Sports agent Sky Andrew, one of the first to sue, agreed earlier this month to settle for 75,000 pounds, while actor Steve Coogan took 40,000 pounds.

The case is Church v. News Group Newspapers, High Court of Justice Chancery Division, No. HC11C03393.

To contact the reporters on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net; Amy Thomson in London at athomson6@bloomberg.net

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

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