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LONDON – News Corp. has pumped up its legal war chest to £100 million ($156 million) to use to settle civil litigation cases brought in the phone-hacking scandal, according to The Independent newspaper.
The rise in the settlement cash pool is dramatic, rocketing from the previously reported sum of £20 million ($31 million).
According to The Independent, Rupert Murdoch’s News International, the newspaper division and former publisher of the now shuttered News of the World, has put aside the extra cash to settle high-profile cases.
Some settlements are expected to be well over $1.5 million apiece, the report suggested, citing sources close to the actions.
A News International spokeswoman called the £100 million figure “purely speculative.”
News International has settled legal claims by a number of high-profile public figures but is still negotiating a host of further claims after it admitted hacking the phones of celebrities, politicians and victims of crime.
Actress Sienna Miller became the first person to agree an out-of-court settlement with the News of the World, accepting £100,000 ($156,000) in compensation for having her phone messages illegally accessed in May.
The paper has unconditionally accepted liability for multiple breaches of privacy and will meet Miller’s considerable legal costs.
News International set up a compensation scheme for phone-hacking victims effective Nov. 4.
Victims can apply via News International’s website.
Applicants are being offered the opportunity to pursue compensation “as a speedy, cost-effective alternative to litigation” and can expect to “obtain very similar remedies” as they would expect to receive in court, News International claims.
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