10 June 2021

Ex-MP Sir Simon Hughes settles phone-hacking claim against News Group Newspapers

10 June 2021

Former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Simon Hughes is among a number of high-profile figures to accept “substantial” damages from the publisher of The Sun over phone-hacking.

Sir Simon sued News Group Newspapers (NGN), the publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World, for misuse of private information and breach of confidence in 2019.

The former MP, who represented Bermondsey and Old Southwark over a 32-year period until 2015, claimed “he had been the victim of unlawful information-gathering by various journalists and executives at The Sun”, the High Court heard.

Sir Simon (PA Archive)

Sir Simon also claimed that information about his sexuality was unlawfully obtained by journalists working for The Sun in 2006, shortly before the newspaper published a front-page story “exposing his sexuality”.

He accepted “substantial” damages from NGN at a brief hearing in London on Thursday.

NGN made no admission of liability in relation to The Sun.

David Sherborne, representing Sir Simon, told the court that journalists working for The Sun had “obtained details from his itemised phone bill, including the telephone numbers of his friends and colleagues”.

Mr Sherborne told the court that call data relating to Sir Simon’s home telephone had been sent to a number of journalists and editors at The Sun, which “deeply troubled and shocked” him.

In 2006, Sir Simon was told by one of The Sun’s journalists that the newspaper had “obtained evidence of his private telephone calls and invited him to agree to accept that he had had homosexual relationships”, the court heard.

Caroline Quentin (PA Archive)

Sir Simon believed that The Sun would publish the story with or without his agreement and “felt he had no choice but to co-operate”, Mr Sherborne said.

The former MP now believes this “private and sensitive information was obtained through unlawful information-gathering techniques and was used with the knowledge and approval of key senior executives at the newspaper”, the court heard.

NGN has agreed to pay substantial damages to Sir Simon, as well as his legal costs, as part of the settlement.

Former Men Behaving Badly actress Caroline Quentin, TV presenter Melinda Messenger, model Paul Sculfor and actress Anouska de Georgiou have also settled claims against NGN, the High Court heard on Thursday.

Mr Justice Fancourt was told that Coronation Street stars Rupert Hill and Jennifer Hill, who is professionally known as Jennifer Platt, had also agreed to accept damages from NGN for phone-hacking.

NGN made no admission of liability in relation to The Sun in respect of any of the claims which were settled on Thursday.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox