Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- News Corp.’s U.K. publishing unit was sued by at least 43 more victims of phone hacking by its now-defunct News of the World tabloid, including “Dr. Who” actor Christopher Eccleston and English model Katie Price.
The lawsuits were filed Sept. 14 in London and made public today, court records show. The unit, News International, was sued last week by about three dozen other victims, including British actor Hugh Grant and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, to meet a deadline for joining a group civil trial scheduled to begin sometime after May 1.
With the new cases, more than 130 people have sued since February. Victims are joining the case after being told by police that details about them were found among the notes of Glenn Mulcaire, the tabloid’s former private investigator who was jailed for phone hacking in 2007.
The tabloid targeted some of the best-known celebrities, including U.S. actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and England soccer player Wayne Rooney, prosecutors said in July. Rebekah Brooks, the ex-chief executive officer of News International, and seven others were charged with conspiring between 2000 and 2006 to hack the voice mail of more than 600 people.
Other public figures who sued last week include former U.K. Labour Party Leader Neil Kinnock, comedian Russell Brand, Manchester United soccer player Rio Ferdinand, English lingerie model Gemma Atkinson and former Scottish lawmaker Tommy Sheridan, who previously sued the publisher in 2006 over a story alleging he was involved in a sex scandal, claims he denied.
Mark Lewis, the U.K. lawyer who represented some of the first-known victims of phone hacking, is also among the group that sued last week. His ex-wife Shelley Lewis and daughter Orli filed a separate case that day, alleging surveillance by a private investigator.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of New York-based News Corp., closed the News of the World in July 2011 to help contain public anger after revelations it hacked the phone of murdered British schoolgirl Milly Dowler, who went missing in 2002 and became the subject of front-page stories.
A message left at News International’s press office wasn’t immediately returned. Brand’s lawyer, Roddy Chisholm Batten of the law firm Clintons in London, didn’t immediately return a call for comment. Eccleston’s lawyer, Mike Brookes of Lee & Thompson LLP, didn’t return a call.
The civil lawsuits are being handled as a single case to establish a common set of claims and facts about the hacking conspiracy and set standards for money damages. A trial that had been scheduled for February 2012 was canceled that month after an earlier wave of victims reached settlements as high as 600,000 pounds ($975,500).
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