Phone Hacking: The Cost of Trial and Police Probes To Date

Andy Coulson

The trial costs for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp are estimated at $100 million-plus, with the cost of trial and probes to British taxpayers estimated to be close to $70 million.

LONDON — Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson and four others are set to be sentenced here on phone hacking charges Friday after investigations and legal procedures that are so far estimated to have cost close to $170 million (£100 million), according to reports.

The trial, which started in October, is one of the most expensive trials, maybe even the most expensive, in U.K. history, according to The Guardian. "We have probably the most expensive case in the country," judge John Saunders said earlier this year. At one point, he also described the cost of the trial as "astronomical."

London police costs for various investigations are estimated to amount to around $56.5 million (£33 million) so far, the paper reported. Scotland Yard has had four probes sparked by the phone-hacking scandal.

Meanwhile, the trial costs for the public prosecution amounted to around $3 million (£1.75 million), according to Britain's Crown Prosecution service. That includes the cost of the prosecution team, the judge's salary and jury costs.

Plus, about $9.3 million (£5.4 million) was spent on the Leveson Inquiry in the wake of the hacking scandal, bringing costs for taxpayers to around $68.8 million (£40 million-plus).

In addition, News Corp's trial fees covering most of the seven defendants in the trial are believed to amount to over $103 million (£60 million), according to the paper. Representatives for News Corp's U.K. newspaper arm weren't available for comment.

Rupert Murdoch's company previously disclosed $454 million in legal costs tied to the phone-hacking scandal through March, a net of $91 million in costs that have been or will be indemnified by 21st Century Fox.

With some in Britain raising questions about the costs of the probes and trial, Greg McGill, a senior lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, called the costs justified in a statement.

"This case was not about whether phone hacking took place or whether public officials were paid for information," he said. "There are a significant number of recent convictions which show that both did happen."

He added, "This has been a lengthy and complex trial which was required to explore a culture of invading privacy."

Further trials are scheduled to start soon.

Twitter: @georgszalai