News of the World phone-hacking cases launched in US

Mark Lewis: "The scandal is not just confined to the UK, but goes to the heartland of News Corporation"

A British lawyer says he is taking legal action in the United States on behalf of three alleged victims of phone hacking by the News of the World.

Mark Lewis said the three were a "well-known sports person", a sports person not in the public eye and a US citizen.

"The News of the World had thousands of people they hacked. Some of them were in America at the time, either travelling or resident there," he said.

The now defunct paper's owner, News International, has declined to comment.

'Collateral damage'

Parent company News Corporation - chaired by Rupert Murdoch - shut the News of the World (NoW) after the scale of phone hacking at the tabloid emerged.

Start Quote

This goes to the heartland of News Corporation”

End Quote Mark Lewis Lawyer

News Corporation also withdrew its bid to buy the remaining 61% stake in satellite broadcaster BSkyB saying it had become "too difficult to progress in this climate".

Mr Lewis told the BBC News Channel that it was significant that legal action over phone hacking had moved outside the United Kingdom for the first time.

"The scandal as it is is not just then confined to the United Kingdom or to the United Kingdom companies like News International and News Group Newspapers.

"This goes to the heartland of News Corporation and we'll be looking at the involvement of the parent company in terms of claims there and that is something that will be taken more seriously by perhaps the investors and shareholders in News Corporation."

Mr Lewis declined to name his three clients in the US action, saying they were entitled to privacy.

"I don't think all three would be described as high profile, one is what we would call collateral damage, they came across perhaps leaving messages and were recorded by the News of the World in England but was an American citizen," he said.

"The other two people are people from outside Britain, who happened to be there - they think - at the time they were hacked."

Mr Lewis added that there was potential for more cases in the US courts and that he was working with other UK lawyers wanting to pursue claims there.

'Blagging'

The hacking of phones by the NoW first came to light in 2006 when the tabloid's then royal editor Clive Goodman, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were accused of illegally accessing the voicemails of royal aides.

Sienna Miller Actress Sienna Miller is among those who have accepted damages over phone hacking

They were jailed in 2007 - for four months and seven months respectively - after admitting the practice.

The NoW was closed in July 2011 after mounting evidence that phone hacking to find stories was more widespread. At least 50 claims against the NoW have now been settled.

Comedian Steve Coogan, former England footballer Paul Gascoigne, actress Sienna Miller and singer Charlotte Church are among those who have accepted damages.

More than 4,000 people have been identified by police as possible victims of phone hacking.

Allegations have also been made that journalists from other papers may also have intercepted voicemails and used "blagging" techniques.

Scotland Yard is conducting three investigations relating to the scandal and a judge-led inquiry has been examining relations between the press, politicians and police, and the conduct of each.

A second phase of the inquiry will focus on unlawful conduct by the press and the police's initial hacking investigation.

Rupert Murdoch's son James has resigned from his role as chairman of BSkyB saying he did not want the UK broadcaster to be undermined by "matters outside this company".

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