Trinity Mirror Loses Appeal of $1.8 Million Phone-Hacking Billby
Largest ever payout in the U.K. for breach of privacy
U.K. publisher to appeal decision to the Supreme Court
Trinity Mirror Plc lost an appeals court bid to cut the amount it has to pay to phone-hacking victims, less than a week after prosecutors decided to drop a probe of 10 journalists with ties to the company’s tabloid newspapers.
The U.K. Court of Appeal ruled in London ruled Thursday that the company should pay out 1.2 million pounds ($1.8 million) to a group of celebrities whose phones were hacked. Under the decision, former England soccer star Paul Gascoigne will receive 188,000 pounds in damages, while actress Sadie Frost will get 260,000 pounds.
The awards are the highest ever for a breach of privacy case in London, which has seen dozens of celebrities compensated by publishers over phone-hacking. News Corp., where the scandal first erupted more than four years ago, has paid out $39 million in civil settlements, according to its quarterly earnings report in August.
Trinity Mirror “cannot expect this court to come to its rescue and find some way of finding the awards to be excessive when its staff have been responsible for disgraceful conduct with such distressing consequences," Judge Mary Arden said in the ruling handed down in London Thursday.
Trinity Mirror, which publishes the Daily and Sunday Mirror, said it would appeal the decision to the U.K.’s top court. The London-based company said it has set aside 41 million pounds to deal with the phone-hacking scandal.
"We continue to believe that the basis used for calculating damages is incorrect and we therefore intend to appeal this matter to the Supreme Court," Trinity Mirror said in a statement. "As a consequence of this decision and the continued uncertainty as to how matters will progress we are increasing our provision to deal with these matters by 13 million pounds."
The decision comes just days after U.K. prosecutors dropped its phone hacking investigation into 10 journalists across two of its publications bringing to an end more than four years of criminal probes at two of the U.K.’s biggest newspaper publishers.