EXCLUSIVE: John Prescott on News Of The World phone hacking payout
LORD Prescott has been awarded £40,000 in damages after journalists at the News Of The World hacked into his telephone messages.
The former Hull East MP and deputy prime minister has been awarded the damages after Newsgroup Newspapers Limited – the publisher of the News Of The World – admitted private telephone messages between him and his staff had been intercepted.
High Court papers seen by the Mail reveal that Lord Prescott’s legal team have now accepted the £40,000 payout and his legal fees after Newsgroup Newspapers admitted “invasion of privacy and breach of confidence” by intercepting the messages.
Lord Prescott’s legal team had argued that Metropolitan Police documents “strongly suggested” that Newsgroup Newspapers and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had listened to “numerous private telephone messages left by, for or concerning” the high-profile politician.
The High Court was told journalists working for Newsgroup Newspapers commissioned the private investigator to intercept the messages.
It is thought a series of articles that appeared in the News Of The World in 2005 and 2006 involving his personal life and about government meetings were based on the phone hacking.
In a statement to the court, Lord Prescott’s legal team said: “It has become clear that information obtained by the defendants in this way had then be used in articles published in the News Of The World.”
As well as paying Lord Prescott damages and legal costs, Newsgroup Newspapers has agreed to hand information to Lord Prescott that will show how many messages had been hacked and over what period to “ascertain the extend of the wrongdoing”.
Last year, Lord Prescott spearheaded calls for action against the News Of The World over the phone hacking scandal.
He had been shown documents by Metropolitan Police detectives that made him believe his phone had been hacked.
Appearing yesterday in the House Of Lords, Lord Prescott attacked the Government’s planned reforms of “no win, no fee” legal cases, claiming without them, he would never have won his case over the hacking scandal.
There have so far been 17 arrests in connection with the police’s ongoing investigation into hacking.
The Labour peer said: “The appalling levels of these arrests and prosecutions reflect badly on the British press and was only possible because of the use of no-win, no-cost situations by those who were complainants – including myself.
“Why is this Government, in a debate next week on legal aid, quite prepared to meet the unanimous demands of the press that we reduce their costs in such situations and yet increase the cost of the individual complainants and actually reduce their rights to a no win, no cost situation?”
Speaking exclusively to the Hull Daily Mail today, Lord Prescott said: “Today’s court decision at long last brings clarity, apology and compensation for the years of hacking into my telephone messages by Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers.
“It follows years of aggressive denials and a cavalier approach to private information and the law. These denials were supported by the Press Complaints Commission and the inaction of senior officers of the Metropolitan Police.
“However I do not wish to make further comment on this whole matter until the result of my judicial review against the Metropolitan Police has been concluded.”