Great Britain

Ronan Keating accepts damages in tabloid phone-hacking case

Ronan Keating has accepted "substantial damages" from the publisher of the News of the World over phone-hacking.

The former Boyzone member, now a presenter on the BBC’s The One Show, brought legal action against News Group Newspapers (NGN) in April 2020, claiming his voicemail messages had been intercepted by NGN journalists.

The High Court heard on Monday that the singer had identified a number of "suspicious" articles published between 1996 and 2011 which he said contained his private information.

Ellen Gallagher, representing Mr Keating, told the court that he claimed his voicemail messages were “intercepted by the defendant's journalists” giving them access to “private and confidential” information from people including the singer’s family and friends.

Mr Keating also claimed that NGN had obtained his personal information through deception. He alleged that the publication of the articles "generated distrust" in his private relationships as he "became suspicious" as to who might have been the newspaper's source.

At the hearing before Mr Justice Fancourt, the court was told that Mr Keating had accepted NGN's offer to settle his claim.

As part of the settlement, NGN has agreed to pay "substantial damages" to the father-of-five, as well as his reasonable legal costs.

NGN also apologised to Mr Keating "for the distress caused to him by the invasion of his privacy by individuals working for or on behalf of the News of the World”.

Ben Silverstone, representing NGN, said: "The defendant acknowledges that such activity should never have taken place and that it had no right to intrude into the private life of the claimant in this way."

NGN did not admit any liability in relation to allegations of phone-hacking at the publisher's other paper, The Sun.

After the hearing, Mr Keating said he was "delighted" that NGN had "accepted responsibility for publishing countless articles about my and my family's private life that should have remained private.

He added: "For many years I was suspicious as to how my private information was being obtained and I am overjoyed that I can now put this episode behind me and move on."

The former boy band star is the latest high-profile figure to have been awarded damages from NGN in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. NGN has spent hundreds of millions in legal fees and damages over the decade since the scandal led to the closure of the News of the World.

Comedian Noel Fielding and former footballer Ally McCoist accepted “substantial damages” in March. Sir Elton John and David Walliams are among the other stars to have settled phone-hacking claims against the publisher in recent years.

The publisher has never admitted liability in relation to alleged phone hacking at The Sun.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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