The damages paid out by Mirror Group Newspapers to eight victims of phone hacking were “out of all proportion” to the gravity of the harm done, the Court of Appeal has heard.
MGN is appealing against Mr Justice Mann’s ruling, in May, which saw the payment of record compensation, totalling about £1.2m, as a result of the invasions of privacy concerned being “so serious and so prolonged”.
All of the awards exceeded the previous highest sum given by a UK court in a privacy case – the £60,000 won by former Formula 1 boss Max Mosley, who successfully sued the now defunct News of the World in 2008 – and are expected to provide a framework for resolving similar civil actions in the pipeline.
Owner Trinity Mirror has said that MGN accepted it should pay appropriate compensation but believed that the basis used for calculating the damages was incorrect and the awards were excessive.
MGN’s counsel, Lord Pannick QC, told Lady Justice Arden, Lady Justice Rafferty and Lord Justice Kitchin on Tuesday: “The sums awarded in this case are out of all proportion to the gravity of the harm done, the damage caused, when consideration is given – as we say it must be – to the established scale of damages for personal injuries.”
In May, actor and businesswoman Sadie Frost received the largest sum of £260,250, with ex-England footballer Paul Gascoigne getting £188,250.
The other payments were £85,000 to BBC creative director Alan Yentob, £117,500 and £157,250 respectively to actors Shobna Gulati and Lucy Taggart, and £155,000 to soap star Shane Richie.
TV producer Robert Ashworth, who was married to actress Tracy Shaw, received £201,250, and flight attendant Lauren Alcorn, who had a relationship with footballer Rio Ferdinand, was awarded £72,500.