Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has filed a lawsuit against media tycoon Rupert Murdoch over alleged hacking of her voicemails by the Murdoch-owned tabloid News of the World (NoW), Mrs. Blair’s lawyer Graham Atkins has told reporters. Sergei Sayenko takes a look at the matter.
Britain’s ex-First Lady became the latest in a row of high-profile figures to take legal action against Murdoch’s now-shut tabloid over phone hacking allegations. She is also suing Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator, who was allegedly hired by the News of the World to hack into the phones of celebrities, among them Princes William and Harry, Prince William’s wife Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the author of the Harry Potter saga Joanne Rowling, actress Sienna Miller, actors Jude Law and Hugh Grant, and others.
News International, the company that owned the tabloid, has settled most of the previous phone hacking lawsuits by paying out sums ranging from 25,000 to 500,000 pounds, a total of more than 6 million pounds, to about 60 celebrities, including former Deputy Prime Minister in the Labour Cabinet John Prescott and Tony Blair’s former advisor Alistair Campbell.
Analysts are pondering about what could have pushed Mrs. Blair to sue Murdoch. In November, Campbell accused Cherie Blair’s close friend Carol Caplan of leaking stories to tabloids but later withdrew the accusation. That could be one reason. As for why Tony Blair did not sue the media mogul himself, the point is that the ex-PM owes a great deal of his political success to Murdoch’s media, and on top of everything else, he is the godfather of Murdoch’s younger daughter Chloe.
The phone hacking scandal involving the News of the World is currently being probed by a special committee headed by Judge Brian Leveson. But it’s a public inquiry and not a criminal investigation, which means that those implicated in this dirty phone hacking affair may escape prosecution.