News Corp. has agreed to pay singer Charlotte Church $951,000 and to apologize for hacking her phone, USA Today reported. The Independent called the settlement an “11th hour deal.” The Guardian noted that “She was the final victim of News of the World phone hacking in a trial of test cases due to begin on Monday 27 February to settle.”
According to USA Today, Church’s cash settlement is “among the highest so far.” We wrote February 23 when the fact of the settlement was announced; now the monetary figure and Church’s response to the lawsuit are known. The BBC noted that “at least 50 claims against the NoW have now been settled.”
According to the Guardian, Church said 33 News of the World articles about her were based on phone hacking.
Church made a statement Feb. 27 about the settlement. Her statement, published in full here, says in part that she filed her lawsuit “to find out the truth about what this newspaper group has done in the pursuit of stories about our family. What I have discovered as the litigation has gone on has sickened and disgusted me. Nothing was deemed off-limits by those who pursued me and my family, just to make money for a multinational news corporation.”
She noted that her family has “suffered” from the media coverage with her. “They have been harassed, put under surveillance, and my mother was bullied into revealing her own private medical condition for no other reason than they were my parents,” she explained.
On the settlement, she said she is “happy” to have “finally discovered…more about what lengths these people were prepared to go to in order to publish stories about myself, my friends and my family.” But, she said she also learned that “these people were prepared to go to any lengths to prevent me exposing their behaviour, not just in the deliberate destruction of documents over a number of years, but also by trying to make this investigation into the industrial scale of their illegal activity into an interrogation of my mother’s medical condition, forcing her to relive the enormous personal distress they caused her back in 2005.”
She added that “it was clear that no-one from News International was prepared to take the stand to explain their actions. In my opinion, they are not truly sorry, only sorry they got caught.”
She noted that she plans to help the criminal investigation and the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, and that money wasn’t her goal in suing.
During an interview with the UK Independent, Chuch claimed that during the “pre-trial discussion” she learned that News Corp planned to “go after the most vulnerable person – my mother.”
“They were going to put her through the indignity of repeated psychological evaluation, make her go back in time, relive everything. They wanted to sit with my mother going over stuff that happened six years ago. And that was supposed to deliver legal information they were looking for? It was a total bullshit exercise. If we’d gone to trial, they were never going to make it about hacking. They were going to make it about everything else. Divide and conquer, weaken our position and do exactly as they’d done to us before.”
We wrote in December about Church’s testimony at the Leveson Inquiry, where she slammed the media for its invasive coverage of her and her family, including News Corp-owned the Sun’s clock on its website “counting down to her 16th birthday…the age of sexual consent.”