By Sian Harrison and Tom Pilgrim, PA
Actress Sienna Miller will tell the UK High Court she was “horrified” to learn that a journalist for The Sun newspaper allegedly met with a medical records tracer in an apparent bid to discover she was pregnant.
The 39-year-old star attended a hearing in London on Wednesday at which a judge was asked to give a ruling on the wording of a statement which is to be read to the court on her behalf on Thursday.
She brought legal action against the newspaper’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), which denies that any illegal information gathering took place at The Sun and has agreed to settle her case for “substantial damages” without any admission of liability.
NGN’s lawyers objected to some parts of the statement, which they said created a “misleading and unfair” impression of the nature of the settlement.
These included an allegation that when Ms Miller was pregnant, the then-editor of The Sun, Rebekah Brooks, called the actress’s assistant to say she knew about the pregnancy.
In his ruling on the matter, Mr Justice Fancourt said that Ms Miller’s statement must be revised to ensure this and other passages are not presented as if they are facts, as there have been no findings made by a court and therefore they remain allegations which are denied by NGN.
Ms Miller’s statement will be amended in accordance with the judge’s ruling and read to the court on Thursday.
The court is also due to hear statements on behalf of ex-footballer Paul Gascoigne and former Liberal Democrat MP and campaigner Dr Evan Harris, but the wording of their statements is also disputed by NGN.
Barrister David Sherborne, who is representing the claimants, told the court the matter was of great importance to them, as demonstrated by the fact Ms Miller has flown to the UK from the US to attend the hearing in person.
Ms Miller was due to return to Los Angeles on Wednesday evening, but agreed to stay after the issues took time to resolve during a hearing which lasted seven hours in total.
She is expected to give a statement outside court on Thursday morning, as is Gerald Shamash, solicitor for Mr Gascoigne – who will not be attending court.
Mr Justice Fancourt was asked by NGN lawyers to conduct parts of the hearing in private, but he refused, saying that the allegations were already in the public domain.
Anthony Hudson QC, representing NGN, said the three claims linked to the statements under dispute were “explicitly settled on the basis of no admission of liability”, and that allegations in the statements were “in reality being presented as fact and that is inappropriate”, adding that this “runs completely contrary to the basis on which the claimants settled”.
Mr Sherborne told the court that Ms Miller was “perfectly entitled” to include certain details in her statement, pointing to case law on unilateral statements in open court which he said made it “very clear” that she should be “allowed to say what she felt was hurtful to her, damaging, the effect of the publication and what she wants to say about the settlement”.
The court earlier heard statements from a number of celebrities and high-profile figures who have settled phone hacking claims against the publisher of the News Of The World.
Statements were read on behalf of 15 people, including actor Sean Bean, Texas lead singer Sharleen Spiteri and ex-cricketer and commentator Shane Warne.
News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of the now-defunct newspaper, has agreed to pay confidential damages to each of the claimants and also pay their legal costs.
The publisher, through its legal team, made public apologies for the actions of the News Of The World, but did not admit any liability in relation to allegations of phone hacking at The Sun.
The group who have settled cases also included actresses Julia and Nadia Sawalha and Michelle Collins, ex-television presenter Dani Behr, singer Dane Bowers, and former Coronation Street actors Richard Fleeshman and Quintin Lawson – also known as Charlie Lawson – who played Jim McDonald in the popular soap.
The court also heard statements on behalf of celebrity agent Jane Epstein, Anne Diamond’s husband Michael Hollingsworth, former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas, former journalist Louise Port, and Natalie Cecil, the ex-wife of racehorse trainer Henry Cecil.
Since the phone-hacking scandal led to the closure of the News Of The World in 2011, NGN has settled a number of damages claims concerning unlawful information-gathering – but the publisher has never admitted liability in relation to alleged phone hacking at The Sun.