Heather Mills has claimed she has received a ‘record payout’ after settling her phone hacking claim against News Group Newspapers (NGN).
The businesswoman and campaigner, who was formerly married to Sir Paul McCartney, settled her claim against NGN, the publisher of The Sun and the defunct News of the World, in February for an undisclosed sum.
An apology to Heather and her sister Fiona Mills, whose claim was also settled, was read out at a hearing in London, before Mr Justice Mann, on Monday.
Speaking outside the High Court, Ms Mills announced she and 90 others had been awarded the “highest media libel settlement in British legal history”.
However, her case was a privacy, rather than a libel, claim and it was not clear whether Ms Mills was referring to the total amount paid to all those who have settled privacy claims against NGN over phone hacking so far.
The 51-year-old said she was motivated by “justice” in her decade-long battle against the publishers.
She said: “We have been awarded the highest media libel settlement in British legal history, and with it, a complete and unmitigated apology for the criminal, targeted smear campaign waged against us by News Group Newspapers – including hacking, invasion of privacy, and the publication of countless falsehoods and lies between 1999 and 2010.”
The amount awarded to Ms Mills is said to be “substantial” but is not yet known.
Ben Silverstone, for NGN, said: “The defendant is here today, through me, to offer its sincere apologies to Ms Heather Mills and Ms Fiona Mills for the distress caused to them by the invasion of their privacy by individuals working for or on behalf of the News of the World.
“The defendant accepts that such activity should never have taken place and that it had no right to intrude into the private lives of Ms Heather Mills or Fiona Mills in this way.”
David Sherborne, for the Mills sisters, said: “The claimants were, and still are, profoundly upset to discover the sustained and repeated invasions of privacy by individuals working for or acting on behalf of the News of the World.
“The claimants believe that the publication of articles in the defendant’s newspapers had a seriously corrosive effect on (their) relationships with their friends and family, some of which can never be repaired.”
The sisters’ claims were settled on the basis that NGN made no admission of liability in relation to their allegations of voicemail interception or other unlawful information gathering at The Sun.