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Mirror Group settles phone-hacking claims

(L-R) Kevin Keegan, Patsy Kensit, Lord Jeffrey Archer, Michelle Collins, Joe Swash, Denise Van Outen
Image caption (L-R) Kevin Keegan, Patsy Kensit, Lord Archer, Michelle Collins, Joe Swash, Denise Van Outen

Dozens of celebrities have settled their phone-hacking claims against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).

Lord Archer, footballer Kevin Keegan and actresses Patsy Kensit and Michelle Collins were among more than 40 cases which were resolved at London's High Court on Tuesday.

The cases were resolved by the payment of undisclosed damages and an apology from the newspaper group.

In some cases damages exceeded £300,000, the BBC understands.

This would exceed the £260,250 record damages awarded to actress Sadie Frost following a High Court trial in 2015.

Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke and actors Joe Swash and Denise van Outen joined a long list of individuals who were the subject of agreed statements read out to Mr Justice Mann at the High Court.

The BBC's legal correspondent Clive Coleman said it was the "biggest tranche of cases" the newspaper group has ever settled.

"The legal costs around these cases are enormous," he added. "MGM put aside £26m to look after all these claims. There are another 50 or so in the pipeline."

Image caption Comedian Vic Reeves was among the phone-hacking victims

Phone hacking was a technique used to listen to people's mobile voicemail. Journalists were able to access private information and use it for stories.

The court heard one of the claimants, James Moir, better known as comedian Vic Reeves, had been suspicious about an article which revealed he and his wife were undergoing fertility treatment - information they had kept private.

Jo Wood - the ex-wife of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, believed tensions between them were increased by the private information appearing in MGN's titles and the distrust caused by the phone-hacking made a potential reconciliation impossible.

'Damage and distress'

David Sherborne, for Mr Clarke, said the activities of MGN in his case had caused "enormous stress" for him and his family.

It caused them to "drastically adapt" their way of life in order to preserve their privacy, he told the judge.

He received a "sincere apology" and undisclosed damages from MGN.

Solicitor Gerald Shamash for author and former politician Lord Archer and his wife Dame Mary Archer, said that MGN accepted that its activities caused "significant damage and distress" to them and members of their family.

Phone hacking: Celebrities win damages from Mirror Group

The judge heard that MGN had paid Ms Kensit a "substantial sum by way of damages".

Her solicitor Callum Galbraith told Mr Justice Mann that MGN's actions caused Ms Kensit distress during "difficult times" when her marriage to Liam Gallagher was breaking down, when her wedding to Jeremy Healey was cancelled and during health scares suffered by her and her son.

'Vindicated'

In the case of Mr Keegan, the judge heard that MGN had agreed to pay him compensation.

Mr Keegan's solicitor, John Newell, said in a statement: "Discovering that his private communications with his family, friends and associates had been unlawfully accessed was a devastating intrusion."

Mr Newell added: "Kevin is pleased that Mirror Group have acknowledged their wrongdoing and publicly apologised.

"He feels vindicated and believes that justice has been done."

Last year settlement of a number of cases was announced at a hearing before the same judge.

They included actions brought by TV presenter Davina McCall and actors Nigel Havers and Rhys Ifans.

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