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Celebrity Steve Coogan awarded six-figure sum in damages for phone hacking scandal

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Known for his portrayal of fictional character Alan Partridge, comedian Steve Coogan was the victim of a hacking scandal that led to details of his personal life published in newspapers, revealing intimate information about his family life, sexual encounters and alleged drug use.

Coogan is amongst dozens of other celebrities who have settled damages claims against Mirror Group Newspaper for reportedly hacking their phones to obtain private information to seemingly publish it in the media and, we assume, sell more papers.

It was a horrid scandal, and the levels of damages awarded goes to show the extent the courts are prepared to go to when people are the victim of malicious hacking.

About the scandal

Coogan participated in the Leveson Inquiry looking into press ethics and how far they can investigate to cover a story, and Coogan’s Lawyer believes it was his involvement in this that made him a target for newspapers.

From there, story after story detailing Coogan’s personal life made its way into the national newspapers.

Coogan claims that 62 news articles contained personal information that could only have been obtained illegally, and his lawyer said in a statement:

“Discovering that his private communications with his family, friends and associates has been unlawfully accessed was a devastating intrusion.”

MGN admission of hacking

MGN later admitted to hacking celebrity phones to gain information from their media content. Celebrities have taken action against the media group for hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.

MGN has since apologised for hacking the celebrities’ phones, and subsequently hiding their illegal activities:

“MGN apologises to Mr Coogan and accepts that he and other victims should not have been denied the truth for so long.”

Standing outside the High Court, Coogan said he felt “vindicated” by the agreement after years of facing criticism from the public for his personal life.

Large compensation sums awarded

The exact amounts have not been disclosed, although we understand Coogan has been awarded a six-figure sum. Other celebrities who have recently won damages have received in excess of £300,000.00, reportedly surpassing the £260,000.00 awarded to actress Sadie Frost back in 2015.

Over 40 celebrities have settled claims for alleged phone-hacking, reprotedly costing publisher Trinity Mirror millions. BBC legal correspondent, Clive Coleman, reported that the newspaper group “put aside £26m to look after all these claims.”

Coleman also reveals that there are “another 50 or so in the pipeline.”

The sanctity of our personal lives

High-profile celebrities are being awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds as the data breach has had a significant impact on their lives. Given that the celebs are already in the spotlight, many often keep their personal lives as private as possible.

When a person’s reputation is smeared or damaged through revelations of secrets that purport the celebrity as less than reputable, it can have a huge impact on their career, and therefore the income they earn.  Celebrities are still human and their right to privacy should be respected. MGN had no right to hack Coogan’s phone to gain access about his personal life.

As he, understandably, hadn’t realised his phone had been hacked, Coogan’s personal relationships were said to be hugely impacted when he reportedly wrongly suspected close family and friends of leaking information.

IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.

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First published by Editor on October 23, 2017
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