A former adviser to model Elle Macpherson dropped her phone-hacking claim against News Corp.’s U.K. unit because of a lack of evidence that her voice mail was accessed by the company, her lawyers said at a London hearing.
Mary-Ellen Field has “come to the conclusion in light of what evidence has shown to be available,” that she “has no alternative but to discontinue the claim,” Augustus Ullstein, her lawyer, said in court today.
Field had claimed voice mails she left Macpherson were intercepted by journalists at News Corp.’s now defunct News of the World. She acted as a business adviser to the model until November 2005 when she was fired under suspicion of leaking private information to the tabloid press.
“There has never been any evidence that News Group Newspapers ever hacked the claimant’s phone or hacked any phone on which she left a message,” Dinah Rose, News International Ltd.’s lawyer, said reading statement in court.
News Corp. has settled more than 89 percent of the 167 phone-hacking claims from a second wave of litigation by victims who said their voice mails were illegally intercepted, lawyers said at an April hearing.
Rose said the company is considering suing Field’s lawyers, Taylor Hampton Solicitors Ltd., over the “substantial” wasted legal costs in the case.
“This appears to be bully-boy tactics in order to get payback for the fact that we exposed all the substantial wrong-doing and wholesale destruction of evidence under James Murdoch’s regime,” Mark Lewis, a lawyer at Taylor Hampton, said to reporters after today’s hearing.
News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World tabloid in July 2011 in response to public anger over revelations it intercepted the mobile-phone messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler a decade ago.