'Living nightmare': Paul Gascoigne and Sienna Miller settle claims against The Sun over 'hacking'

ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner reports on the implications of two of the latest claimants to formally settle a phone hacking claim against The Sun newspaper's publisher

Paul Gascoigne and Sienna Miller have become the latest high-profile figures to settle "substantial" claims against The Sun newspaper's publisher over the phone hacking scandal.

The actress claimed the newspaper "very nearly ruined my life", alleging a journalist had met with a medical records tracer and "leaked" that she was pregnant.

Meanwhile, the former England footballer's lawyer said he has suffered a "living nightmare" and alleged The Sun hired a private investigator to look into his private medical records, who later appeared to issue an invoice for "Gazza suicide watch".

Miller and Gascoigne brought legal action against The Sun's publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) claiming they were the victims of "unlawful information gathering" by journalists at the newspaper.

NGN denied that any illegal information gathering took place at the newspaper but has agreed to settle both of the case for “substantial damages” without any admission of liability and without a trial.

Gascoigne's lawyer, Gerald Shamash, said outside court he had represented a “large number of high-profile victims” of alleged “phone hacking”, adding: “This is one of the worst cases I have encountered in terms of sheer volume of stories and private information that was published about Paul and the significant damage this has had on his mental health.”

Former England football star Paul Gascoigne. Credit: Chris Clark/PA Wire/Press Association Images

In a statement read out on the former footballer's behalf, he said he had wanted to be present but was “learning to avoid situations that put me under stress and so have decided to stay away”.

Gascoigne’s 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...

“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."

"I often ask myself, why? What did I do to warrant such systematic and targeted intrusion?," his statement continued.

“All I ever wanted to do was to play football, but I have been constantly dragged down – sometimes to the point of complete breakdown – by a relentless campaign to make public all aspects of my life.

“It has been a living nightmare which has changed me forever, I don’t believe I will ever fully recover.”

"Their behaviour damaged my reputation at times beyond repair" - Watch Sienna Miller's statement outside court in full

The former Newcastle United and England star brought legal action against NGN in May 2020. The court heard Gascoigne was “horrified” to learn from the disclosure process that a number of payments were made to a private investigator, who is alleged to have obtained his private medical information, around the time an article was published about him being sectioned.

Following the settlement, 39-year-old Miller told reporters outside court: “They very nearly ruined my life. I’ve certainly seen how they’ve 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.”

In a statement read on her behalf at the High Court, Miller told how she felt the newspaper "brutally took away her choice" and aimed to "profit out of her misery”.

Her barrister David Sherborne told the hearing on Thursday that Miller issued legal action over alleged voicemail interception and misuse of private information in September 2019.

He said the actress claimed the “unlawful information-gathering” allegedly used against her "had been concealed by senior executives including by the deliberate destruction of incriminating evidence".

Miller's claim - which she pursued for nearly a decade - could be just one of hundreds more to come, explains ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner

Mr Sherborne told the court: “The Sun published numerous intrusive stories about her that contained intimate private details about her relationships and feelings and even her confidential medical information.”

He said material disclosed left 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”.

The lawyer 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”.

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He added that she “believes it was Rebekah Brooks, then editor of The Sun, who first called the claimant’s representative to say that she knew that the claimant was pregnant”.

Mr Sherborne said Miller alleged Ms Brooks – who has denied involvement in unlawful activity – and others were “responsible for leaking the pregnancy and that their actions, including the call, had led her to being unable to trust those closest to her when she really needed them”.

The lawyer added: “It was already an incredibly stressful and difficult time in her life but The Sun’s targeting of her made it traumatic. She felt at the time, and still does, that The Sun brutally took away her choice in the matter.

Sienna Miller outside court earlier on Wednesday Credit: PA

“Ms Miller felt that they were constantly hounding her so that she could not even visit a doctor’s clinic without being followed.”

He said Miller “continues to be distressed by the fact that she may never know the precise extent of News Group’s activities” and had wanted to pursue her claim to trial but was unable to due to costs as she faced “a potential bill of millions of pounds”.

Mr Sherborne said Miller feels "fully vindicated" by the settled claim but earlier said she “cannot ever forgive what they did to her".

A bundle of the final copy of the News Of The World newspaper printed in July 2011 Credit: PA

The actress’s statement comes after some 15 celebrities and high-profile figures also settled claims against NGN, publisher of the News Of The World, over phone hacking 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.

Later on Thursday, the court was due to hear statements on behalf of former Liberal Democrat MP and campaigner Evan Harris, but the wording of his statement is also disputed by NGN.