Ex-MP claims that ‘senior officials’ at The Sun were aware that information was obtained illegally.
After accepting “substantial” damages from the newspaper’s publisher, former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Simon Hughes said knowledge that his private information was fraudulently stolen “went to the top in The Sun.”
In 2019, Sir Simon filed a lawsuit against News Group Newspapers (NGN), the publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World, for misappropriation of confidential information and breach of trust.
The former Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP claimed “he had been the victim of improper information-gathering by several journalists and executives at The Sun” before the High Court on Thursday.
Sir Simon also alleged that journalists working for The Sun illegally obtained information about his sexuality in 2006, just before the publication published a front-page story “exposing his sexuality.”
NGN has now agreed to pay Sir Simon “significant” damages as well as his legal fees, but has made no acknowledgment of culpability in the case of The Sun.
Sir Simon’s lawyer, David Sherborne, told the court that The Sun writers had “obtained facts from his itemized phone bill, including the telephone numbers of his acquaintances and colleagues.”
Sir Simon’s home telephone call data had been supplied to a number of journalists and editors at The Sun, Mr Sherborne told the court, which “seriously worried and horrified” him.
According to the court, one of The Sun’s journalists told Sir Simon in 2006 that the newspaper had “obtained evidence of his private telephone calls and encouraged him to agree to concede that he had had gay relationships.”
Mr Sherborne claimed Sir Simon believed The Sun would publish the story with or without his permission, and that he “thought he had no choice than to cooperate.”
According to the court, the former MP now believes that this “private and sensitive information was collected by illicit information-gathering procedures and was used with the knowledge and permission of important senior officials at the newspaper.”
Sir Simon said the settlement marked the “end of a long narrative of events” outside the Rolls Building in London after the hearing.
He’s the one. (This is a brief piece.)