Tony Blair’s Wife Sues News Corp., Convicted Phone Hacker
Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife Cherie sued News Corp. (NWSA) and a former private investigator over claims the company’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid hacked into her phone.
The lawsuit, filed yesterday against the company’s U.K. unit and Glenn Mulcaire, comes as News Corp. prepares for the first civil trial over the scandal, scheduled to start Feb. 27 in London. The company has already settled phone-hacking claims by Blair’s former press chief, Alastair Campbell, and former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch shuttered the News of the World in July in a bid to contain public anger after it was revealed the tabloid hacked into the voice mails of a murdered schoolgirl. While most of the current lawsuits have settled, the company may face claims by more than 800 possible victims identified by police.
“If it is true that a former prime minister’s family have been targeted by Rupert Murdoch’s hackers, then it is clearly a significant moment in the scandal,” Tom Watson, a Labour Party lawmaker who is on a parliamentary committee investigating the scandal, said in an e-mail.
A message left with the press office of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, News International, wasn’t immediately returned. Mulcaire’s lawyer, Sarah Webb, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 for hacking phones of members of Britain’s royal family.
“We have issued a claim on behalf of Cherie Blair in relation to the unlawful interception of her voice mails,” her lawyer, Graham Atkins of Atkins Thomson Solicitors in London, said in an e-mailed statement. “I will not be commenting any further at this time.” Full details of the suit aren’t yet available.
Tony Blair, who led Labour to three successive general- election victories starting in 1997, regularly consulted with Murdoch during his decade in office. Vogue magazine reported last year that in 2010 he’d become godfather to Murdoch’s daughter Grace. His office didn’t respond to an e-mail today requesting confirmation.
Cherie Blair, 57, was the subject of media attention throughout her husband’s premiership. She continued her career as a human-rights lawyer, and spoke of the difficulty of juggling life as a working mother of young children and the wife of the prime minister. Her father, Tony Booth, a prominent actor who supported Labour, was critical of many of his son-in-law’s policies.