Sienna Miller and Paul Gascoigne have said they feel “fully vindicated” in bringing claims against the publisher of The Sun over alleged unlawful information gathering, as their cases were formally settled at the UK High Court.
The pair brought legal action against News Group Newspapers (NGN), which the publisher settled for undisclosed damages without making any admissions of liability.
A statement read to the court on Thursday on behalf of Ms Miller described how the 39-year-old actress felt the newspaper “brutally took away her choice” by allegedly “leaking” the news of her pregnancy.
Mr Gascoigne’s solicitor, Gerald Shamash, told the court the ex-footballer was “horrified” to learn during the disclosure process that a number of payments were allegedly made to a private investigator who is said to have obtained his private medical information and who appeared to have issued an invoice for “Gazza suicide watch” around the time an article was published about him being sectioned.
Both Ms Miller and Mr Gascoigne said they wanted to pursue their claims to trial but were unable to do so due to the costs of litigation.
They each said in their statements read before the court that they believe the agreement of NGN to pay them substantial damages is “tantamount to an admission of liability on the part of The Sun” and they therefore feel “fully vindicated” in having brought their claims.
After her statement was read, Ms Miller spoke directly to the press gathered outside, whilst Mr Shamash, of law firm Edwards Duthie Shamash, read a personal statement from Mr Gascoigne.
Ms Miller said: “As my (statement in open court) made clear, I am deeply distressed and shocked by what I have learned about the conduct of journalists and senior management at The Sun and News International.
“They all thought that they were above the law. I am sure when they weigh up the cost of this case, that kind of behaviour probably seemed worth it bearing in mind the amount of money they made by trading on people’s personal information, by trading on their lives, by trading on their own private truths in order to sell their papers.
“They very nearly ruined my life. I have certainly seen how they have ruined the lives of others.
“Their behaviour shattered me, damaged my reputation – at times beyond repair – and caused me to accuse my family and friends of selling information that catapulted me into a state of intense paranoia and fear.
“Their actions, their words, their ‘tittle tattle’ compelled me into making decisions about my future and ultimately about my own body that I have to live with every single day.”
Mr Gascoigne, through Mr Shamash, said he had wanted to attend court but was “learning to avoid situations that put me under stress and so have decided to stay away”.
His statement continued: “The illegal and highly intrusive actions of certain sections of the media have cast a dark shadow over me for more than 25 years – almost half my life.
“This is the third case I have settled in relation to phone hacking. In this latest case I have discovered that a staggering 98 separate news stories were published by The Sun about me.
“These stories have not only had a devastating and debilitating impact on my mental health and wellbeing, but they have also put my friendships and family relationships under incredible strain.
“With no other explanation, I unfairly blamed them for leaking personal information to the press and I found it difficult to trust anyone, which caused relationships to break down, in some cases tragically beyond repair.”
NGN strenuously denies that any unlawful information gathering took place at The Sun, having previously settled claims on the basis that such activity took place at the now-defunct News Of The World only and having agreed to pay damages to Ms Miller and Mr Gascoigne without admitting liability.
Ms Miller’s barrister David Sherborne told the court earlier on Thursday that she issued legal action over alleged voicemail interception and misuse of private information in September 2019.
Mr Sherborne said she claimed she was the “victim of unlawful information-gathering by various journalists and executives at The Sun” and she “also alleged that this had been concealed by senior executives including by the deliberate destruction of incriminating evidence”.
He said material disclosed left Ms Miller “horrified” as she believed it showed expenses were claimed by a senior Sun journalist “and that he had met with a ‘medical records tracer’ in July and August 2005 to discuss Ms Miller’s pregnancy”.
He added that disclosure in January 2020 “comprised records of phone calls made by News Group journalists to mobile phones in relation to her and four of her friends and members of her family, as well as private investigator invoices to The Sun and records of contributor payments by The Sun to alleged private investigators”.
Mr Sherborne said Ms Miller found it “particularly painful” when preparing a witness statement for her claim as she “had to relive what News Group had done to her over a number of years, including times when she was extremely vulnerable”.
Mr Shamash, reading a statement to the High Court on behalf of Mr Gascoigne, said the former Newcastle United and England star brought legal action against NGN in May 2020 alleging he had been the “victim of unlawful information gathering” by journalists at The Sun.
The solicitor told the court: “Mr Gascoigne was not only shocked to see the disclosure which he believed showed that The Sun had paid to obtain information on his mental health but that the references on the expenses and invoices appeared to him to be so blatant and yet seemingly not questioned by anyone at The Sun.
“This example was only one of several instances of payments which Mr Gascoigne believed were made in relation to obtaining private, very personally sensitive matters relating to Mr Gascoigne and his family and friends.”
Some 15 celebrities and high-profile figures also settled claims against NGN, publisher of the News Of The World, over phone hacking and illegal activity at the now-defunct newspaper.
On Wednesday, the court heard statements read out on their behalf, including for actor Sean Bean, Texas lead singer Sharleen Spiteri and ex-cricketer and commentator Shane Warne.
Hundreds of claims have been settled by NGN in relation to The News Of The World since the phone hacking scandal first broke in 2011, with a number of other claims – including one by the Duke of Sussex – awaiting either settlement or trial.