Alleged phone tap victims could sue News of the World

High-profile figures whose phones were allegedly hacked by the News of the World are considering suing the newspaper, according to lawyers.

Various public figures had already contacted a number of barristers for advice, said Mark Stephens, head of media at law firm Finers Stephens Innocent.

Stephens said he had been approached by two high profile figures seeking advice, and knew of three barristers and three other solicitors who had been approached.

“At the moment it’s fair to say that people are looking at their options, they want to see what is going on,” he said

“The first hurdle for any individual is to ascertain whether they were the subject of criminal behaviour or a conspiracy for criminal behaviour.

“That requires them to obtain from the police, the information commissioner or the court details of what was happening.”

Scotland Yard last night ruled out a new investigation into claims thousands of public figures had their phones hacked.

Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner John Yates said police had seen no additional evidence since the last investigation, which led to News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire being jailed for four months and six months respectively.

But he added that police would now inform any potential victims that their phone might have been hacked where there was any suspicion.

Stephens said: “Even your average policeman on the beat will have been slack jawed by the comments of John Yates yesterday because he doesn’t appear to have considered the possibility of criminal conspiracy charges.”

Any civil action would have to follow criminal proceedings and was likely to take the form of a “consolidated action” in which the same judge would look at the individual cases one after another.

A successful claim was likely to result in the claimant winning a payout totalling more than half a million pounds for damages and costs, he added.

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