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Mirror Group to pay damages to comedian over phone hacking

Steve Coogan who has received damages and an apology from Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over phone-hacking. The actor and comedian was at London's High Court yesterday for the settlement of his action for misuse of private information PICTURE: Victoria Jones/PA
Jan Colley

STEVE Coogan has received damages and an apology from Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over phone-hacking.

The actor and comedian was at London's High Court yesterday for the settlement of his action for misuse of private information.

The amount of damages was not revealed at the hearing before Mr Justice Mann, but Mr Coogan confirmed outside court that it was a six-figure sum, most of which would be distributed to good causes.

Asked what today meant to him, he said: "Vindication".

Mr Coogan's counsel David Sherborne told the judge that the case concerned voicemail hacking, unlawfully obtaining personal information from third parties and surveillance by private investigators.

"Mr Coogan has identified 62 articles that he alleges are likely to have been produced by use of these means.

"Much of what was published caused enormous distress and significant damage to Mr Coogan's relationships with those he wrongly suspected had leaked private information or who believed he was the cause of their private information being made public."

Mr Sherborne said that before bringing the case, Mr Coogan was a core participant at the Leveson inquiry and his participation led to a number of attacks on him by national newspapers.

He also followed with great interest the evidence of MGN and Trinity Mirror witnesses and became increasingly concerned given the allegations of wrongdoing by journalists at MGN that had been made before the inquiry.

Counsel said: "Mr Coogan is clear that if Trinity Mirror had conducted a proper investigation at an early stage then the unlawful activity could have been stopped and prevented the enormous distress and damage it caused its victims, their family and friends."

Mr Sherborne said that, in response to Mr Coogan's complaint in July 2015, MGN admitted liability for the misuse of his private information.

In October 2016 Mr Coogan issued his claim and attempted to ascertain the extent of the wrongdoing and identify the relevant articles.

Mr Sherborne said: "Following extensive negotiations, the level of damages and terms of the apology and admissions have now been agreed.

"In addition to its apology for the misuse of private information, MGN also apologises for the concealment of these activities at the time."

Richard Munden, counsel for MGN, said: "MGN acknowledges that Mr Coogan was the target of unlawful activities and that these activities were concealed until years later.

"It apologises to Mr Coogan for its wrongdoing over a decade ago and for any articles that were the product of unlawful activity and for the concealment of these activities.

"MGN apologises to Mr Coogan and accepts that he and other victims should not have been denied the truth for so long."

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