Phone-hacking 'costs Murdoch £79m'

The closure of the News of the World and payouts to phone-hacking victims have already cost Rupert Murdoch more than £79 million, official figures show.

News Group Newspapers, the subsidiary which also publishes The Sun, has also taken a £160 million accounting write-off to cover the loss of publishing rights for the defunct Sunday tabloid.

The company has set aside £23.7 million for phone-hacking claimants’ damages and legal fees, and £55.5 million for costs relating to the News of the World’s closure including redundancy payments and legal fees, accounts lodged with Companies House show.

The report noted that the final cost of settling civil claims brought by people whose voicemails were intercepted by the paper “may or may not be significantly higher”.

It added: “Violations of law may result in civil, administrative or criminal fines or penalties, which may or may not be significant.”

The accounts show that News Group Newspapers increased pre-tax profits to £103.6 million in the year to July 3 last year from £88.6 million in 2010.

Separate figures reveal that Times Newspaper Limited, which owns the Times and Sunday Times, reduced pre-tax losses to £11.6 million from £45 million the previous year.

The 168-year-old News of the World closed on July 10 last year amid public outcry over the revelation that the paper hacked the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler after she went missing in 2002.

Murdoch began publishing a new Sunday edition of The Sun on February 26.

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