Lawyers working for a Hollywood stuntwoman allegedly hacked by News Corp journalists said Tuesday they are working with more potential victims.
At a press conference in New York, Norman Siegel, lawyer for Eunice Huthart, Angelina Jolie's sometime stunt double, said they had spoken to a number of people who claim they have been hacked by journalists working for News Corp.
He refused to give details but added: "There are a bunch of people, the majority from England but some from here, who want to bring claims."
Siegel is part of a team bringing the first case for alleged hacking in the US courts. He is working with Mark Lewis, the British lawyer who has represented nearly 100 clients, including the family of Milly Dowler, the kidnapped 13-year-old whose voicemail is said to have been hacked by reporters from the now-closed News of the World tabloid.
News Corp initially dismissed the hacking scandal in the UK as the work of a "rogue reporter", said Siegel. That case grew into a scandal that has led to more than 100 arrests and the closure of the News of the World. "Six years later we are on this side of the Atlantic looking at one case but at something that will clearly go further," said Siegel.
Huthart, who is British, worked with Jolie on movies including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Salt and Mr and Mrs Smith. According to a civil lawsuit filed in Los Angeles: "illegal activities were undertaken [by News Corp employees and their representatives] ... principally through the two newspapers, the Sun and the News of the World".
The suit alleges that Huthart's personal messages were intercepted and used in several stories by the UK newspapers, including the fact that Jolie had started a relationship with co-star Brad Pitt on the set of Mr & Mrs Smith, something that only their bodyguards, their PAs and Huthart knew.
News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch regularly called the editors of his newspapers to discuss their top stories and "knew or should have known that executives, employees and agents of The Sun and News of the World were engaged in widespread phone hacking", the suit alleges.
This is the first time that News Corp, parent company of News International, which controls the UK newspapers, has been named as a defendant in a case. It comes as the Justice Department continues to investigate News Corp under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), used to pursue US companies accused of bribing foreign officials.
Siegel has also worked with the relatives of 9/11 victims who were also reportedly hacked by News Corp employees. Siegel said it was his understanding that a FBI investigation into those allegations was ongoing.
Klein-watchers should keep an eye on this story.
News Corporation has been split into the entertainment division (21st Century Fox) and the print/education division (News Corporation.)
These court cases will affect the print/education division.
The legal fees, penalties, out of court settlements and the like will all come from that division.
It doesn't bode well for the future of Amplify that the education division starts out having to fight the hacking claims cases.