Singer Keating accepts damages in tabloid phone hacking case

LONDON (AP) — Irish singer Ronan Keating on Monday accepted “substantial damages” from a British tabloid newspaper publisher over phone hacking.

The former member of boy band Boyzone is the latest in a long list of celebrities whose mobile phone voicemail messages were intercepted by News of the World reporters more than a decade ago.

Keating’s lawyer, Ellen Gallagher, told a High Court hearing that the singer had identified a number of “suspicious” articles published between 1996 and 2011 which he said contained his private information.

Keating’s suspicions about who might be leaking personal information to the newspaper “generated distrust which impacted on his relationships and caused him considerable distress and upset,” Gallagher said.

Ben Silverstone, lawyer for News of the World publisher News Group Newspapers, said the company offered “its sincere apologies to the claimant 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.”

“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,” he said.

The amount of the damages was not disclosed.

Owner Rupert Murdoch shut down the 168-year-old News of the World in 2011 after the revelation that its employees had eavesdropped on celebrities, politicians and crime victims. Since then, police investigations, criminal trials and a public inquiry have revealed that phone hacking was widespread at Britain’s tabloids.

News Group Newspapers and rival publisher Trinity Mirror have both paid millions of pounds to settle lawsuits from hacking victims.

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