Punitive damages dropped in phone hacking

Sept. 27, 2012 at 1:57 PM

LONDON, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Victims of phone hacking by the British tabloid News of the World have dropped their effort to get exemplary damages, their lawyers said Thursday.

In a hearing before a High Court judge, lawyers representing about 170 people said their clients do not want to endanger the criminal cases against former News of the World staffers, The Guardian reported. The victims include Cherie Blair, wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Manchester United soccer star Wayne Rooney.

Rebekah Brooks, the Rupert Murdoch protege who once edited the tabloid, and Andy Coulson, a former editor who went on to become Prime Minister David Cameron's press secretary, were told Wednesday they face trial next year.

Dinah Rose, News Group Newspaper's lawyer, accused the plaintiffs of seeking "financial windfalls" to punish the company. She said the company is ready to pay reasonable damages to victims of phone-hacking but punitive damages, known as exemplary damages in Britain, were not justified by the law.

Murdoch shut down the venerable Sunday tabloid last year after the phone-hacking scandal exploded.

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