Drinks are on Heather!


Campaigner Heather Mills said she feels vindicated after settling her phone-hacking case against the News of the World for a “substantial” sum.

An apology from News Group Newspapers to her and her sister, Fiona Mills, was read out at a High Court hearing.

The publisher offered “sincere apologies” for “distress caused to them by the invasion of their privacy”.

The businesswoman said her charity work suffered due to the “destruction” of her reputation.

The court heard that the sisters had experienced “strange activity with their telephones” with “journalists and photographers turning up in unexpected locations”.

They said they had seen stories published in newspapers which included private information “without any apparent identifiable source”.

These publications “caused a lot of distrust and suspicion” that a family member or friend was “betraying them and selling stories to the press”, a statement from the sisters said.

Speaking outside court after the case, Heather Mills said the settlement stemmed from activity carried out between 1999 to 2010.

She said: “The feeling that I have is one of joy and vindication”, adding that her “motivation to win the decade-long fight stemmed from a desire to obtain justice”.

Ms Mills, who was married to Sir Paul McCartney, said the phone hacking had “an extremely detrimental impact on my personal life and that of my family”.

She said it had also adversely affected her landmine and animal charities and their “ability to raise funds”.

The Mills’ claims were settled on the basis that NGN made no admission of liability in relation to their allegations of voicemail interception or other unlawful information gathering at The Sun.

In her statement, Ms Mills spoke of the “highest media libel settlement in British legal history”.

However, her case was a privacy, rather than a libel, claim and it was not initially clear if Ms Mills was referring to the amount of all those who have settled privacy claims against NGN over phone hacking so far.

Her solicitor, Mark Thomson of Atkins Thomson, has since confirmed that Ms Mills was referring to her own claim against NGN.

A group which represents victims of the phone hacking scandal said in May that the total bill for newspaper publishers could reach £1bn.

Hacked Off’s Nathan Sparks told the BBC there could be many hundreds or thousands more still to make claims.

Something, something, LEGLESS


Open and shut case. She had one more leg to stand on than they did.


I feared they were going to take her down a peg or two.


Hacking huh. Did they hack her leg off?


Sounds like they were constantly caught on the hop



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So has anyone, or will anyone actually do serious Jail time for these blatant breaches of Privacy, and you know, … breaking of multiple Laws??

Or is a “Sincere” (not) apology and a cheque book enough to see the culprits right, yet again?

A couple got jailed. Though not for much:

Google tells me Clive Goodman was sentenced to four months. His co-conspirator Glenn Mulcaire was sentenced to six months.

As for the payout to Heather, it’ll help foot her bills.

Clive Goodman sentenced to four months

Chris TryhornSat 27 Jan 2007 06.38 AEDT

News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman was today sentenced to four months in jail after pleading guilty to intercepting phone messages.

His co-conspirator Glenn Mulcaire was sentenced to six months.

The judge, Mr Justice Gross, described Goodman and Mulcaire’s behaviour as “low conduct, reprehensible in the extreme”.

He said Goodman had been motivated by “career advancement and protection”.

“Neither journalist nor private security consultants are above the law,” the judge said.

"This case was not about press freedom; it was about a grave, inexcusable and illegal invasion of privacy.

“It was not pushing at the limits, or at the cusp: it was plainly on the wrong side of the line. It is essential for the decency of our public life that conduct of this kind is clearly marked as unacceptable.”

“This was serious criminal conduct to which we must not become numbed. It is to my mind [of] the very first importance to the fabric of our public life that such intrusive, sustained criminal conduct should be marked by immediate loss of liberty,” the judge said.

Goodman had a glittering reputation at the News of the World for scoop-getting, reputedly holding the paper’s record for the highest number of consecutive front-page leads.

But his thirst for inside information led him to break the law by hacking into private phone messages, and today earned him a four-month jail sentence.

Goodman’s undoing resulted from the pursuit of comparatively low-grade tittle-tattle. The story that first aroused suspicion in the royal household that he had been tapping into phone messages appeared in the News of the World’s Blackadder column on November 6 2005.

It told how Prince William had consulted doctors over a pulled knee tendon and had postponed a mountain rescue course - something known to very few people.

A week later the diary ran an item saying that Tom Bradby, ITV’s former royal correspondent, had lent the prince some broadcasting equipment. The piece appeared a week before Bradby was due to meet William.

“We worked out that only he and I and two people incredibly close to him had actually known about it,” said Mr Bradby, who is now political editor for ITN.

The royal household reported its suspicions to the police, and the inquiry was taken on by the counter-terrorism branch of Scotland Yard.

Goodman used a private investigator for much of the work: Glenn Mulcaire, a former Wimbledon footballer.

The men were arrested and charged in August, and on November 29 pleaded guilty to conspiracy to intercept communications without lawful authority, under the Criminal Law Act 1977.

The charges related to three members of the royal household, but the investigation found that targets for tapping may also have included David Blunkett, while he was home secretary, the government minister David Miliband, the England and Portsmouth defender Sol Campbell, and the Sun editor Rebekah Wade.

Mulcaire also pleaded guilty to a further five counts of unlawful interception of communications under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) 2000, a more recent law brought in to recognise technological advances in telephony and the internet.

Those counts related to Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, supermodel Elle Macpherson, publicist Max Clifford, football agent Andrew Skylet, and Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association.

When he pleaded guilty in November, Goodman apologised in court to the three members of the royal household staff concerned and their principals, Princes William, Harry and Charles.

Andy Coulson, the News of the World’s editor, said the paper would make a substantial donation to charities of the princes’ choice.

The duo made a total of 609 calls to the royal staff members’ numbers in order to extract phone messages from voicemail. Goodman made 487 calls, while Mulcaire made 122 calls.

The News of the World paid Mulcaire more than £100,000 a year for his services.

In addition, Goodman paid Mulcaire £12,300 in cash between November 9 2005 and August 7 2006, hiding Mulcaire’s identity by using the code name Alexander on his expenses claim.

Records of this payment file included references to “Harry and Chelsea” and “Wills”.

The court was also told that News of the World journalist Goodman was driven to break the law because of the “pressure” he felt to break stories.

The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, said: "Today’s sentence sends a very clear signal that breaches of individuals’ privacy will be taken seriously by the courts.

"The relevant legislation that deals with intercepting telephone calls without consent - the offence for which Clive Goodman has been convicted - is the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, not the Data Protection Act.

"The current very low penalties under the Data Protection Act for “blagging” offences which do not involve telecoms interception are not a sufficient deterrent to stop the widespread illegal trade in personal information.

"Tougher sanctions are required to deter those who obtain financial, health, criminal and similar records through impersonation and similar means. I repeat my call for a maximum two-year prison sentence for people who commit the existing crime under the Data Protection Act of unlawfully obtaining or selling people’s personal information.

"My report, What Price Privacy?, drew attention to the illegal methods that some agents use to obtain personal information on behalf of journalists, financial institutions and so on. Information obtained improperly - very often by means of deception - can cause significant harm and distress to individuals. Following the publication of my report last year, the Department for Constitutional Affairs launched a consultation on stiffer penalties, and I look forward to hearing the outcome of that consultation shortly.

“There is a clear public interest defence in the Data Protection Act which means that investigative journalists and others exposing public malpractice have nothing to fear.”

· To contact the MediaGuardian newsdesk email [email protected]or phone 020 7239 9857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 7278 2332.

· If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly “for publication”.

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Your time to shine.

That’s one hell of a hip flask.


I prefer to keep things low key. It’s been an exhausting battle and I need some R&R. I’ll find a quiet spot to put my foot up and take it easy.


News of the World to foot the bill

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Sounds like you’ve had your share of legal battles

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