News of the World phone-hacking stories gave David Walliams 'sense of paranoia and worry', court hears as comedian settles claim - Press Gazette

News of the World phone-hacking stories gave David Walliams 'sense of paranoia and worry', court hears as comedian settles claim

Actor and comedian David Walliams has settled his phone-hacking damages claim.

Walliams, who is best known for the sketch show Little Britain but is also an author and a trustee of Comic Relief, accepted substantial undisclosed damages and his legal costs from News Group Newspapers (NGN), publishers of the now-defunct News of the World.

He was not at London's High Court for today's brief hearing before Mr Justice Mann.

His solicitor, Jenny Afia, told the judge that, although he was very well known because of his work, Walliams strove to live a private life in the public eye and had previously taken steps to safeguard his privacy.

Since 2005, a number of articles about him were published in the Sunday tabloid and he could not understand how journalists were obtaining his private information.

"The process understandably caused him to distrust people, including friends and girlfriends, creating a sense of paranoia and worry."

Walliams was approached by the Metropolitan Police in March 2013 about information they had obtained about him, including call data evidence from 2005 and an entry in the Palm Pilot of journalist Dan Evans containing the actor's contact details.

Walliams was also told Evans had admitted that he had intercepted his voicemail as well as voicemails he had left for another person, said Afia, of London firm Schillings.

In January this year, Walliams issued proceedings for misuse of private information, seeking damages and aggravated damages.

"In support of his claim for aggravated damages, the claimant relied upon his anxiety about trusting people. The fact that the claimant did not know how the defendant was obtaining information about him contributed to his anxiety."

Afia said that an example alleged by Walliams – which NGN did not accept and had not pleaded to – was where the actor's PR agent was telephoned by reporters belonging to NGN within 30 minutes of reporting his car being broken into.

She added that NGN had admitted liability for misuse of certain private information and agreed to pay damages and costs.

"Furthermore, the defendant has provided a permanent undertaking to the court not to unlawfully access or attempt unlawfully to access voicemail messages or other private information left by or for the claimant, nor to publish or use any information which it knows was obtained in this way."

Walliams later tweeted that the "good news" was that the damages would go to Comic Relief and pay for all the food at a Kenyan orphanage for a year.



Press Gazette's must-read weekly newsletter featuring interviews, data, insight and investigations.