News Corp.’s U.K. publishing unit faces at least six new lawsuits by victims of tabloid phone hacking even after a court-issued deadline passed for filing such cases, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The new victims will seek permission at a Feb. 8 hearing in London to join a group civil trial scheduled for June, said the people, who asked not to be identified or disclose the names of the victims because the lawsuits aren’t yet public.
If Judge Geoffrey Vos approves the request, the victims will join about two dozen others who haven’t reached settlements with the News Corp. unit that published the News of the World tabloid at the center of the phone-hacking scandal.
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the newspaper in July 2011 in response to public anger over revelations it intercepted the mobile-phone voice mail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler a decade ago. Prosecutors overseeing criminal cases against some of the tabloid’s ex-employees have said the title victimized more than 600 people between 2000 and 2006.
While the deadline for suing expired in September, causing a rush of last-minute filings, the Metropolitan Police Service is still contacting potential victims based on searches of thousands of pages of evidence seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the tabloid’s former private detective who hacked phones.
The Met, which is probing phone hacking and bribery at News Corp.’s U.K. titles, has previously said there were nearly 4,800 potential victims to contact, more than half of which had been reached by July 2012.
The police force’s press office didn’t immediately return a call to comment on updated figures. A spokeswoman for News International, News Corp.’s U.K. unit, also didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
In the past two months, at least 133 victims settled, including Cherie Blair, the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Ted Beckham, the father of soccer player David Beckham. British actor Hugh Grant, one of the most vocal critics of the scandal, also settled his case instead of going to trial.