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Updated: February 23, 2012 23:17 IST

Cherie Blair sues Murdoch group

Hasan Suroor
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Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair

Cherie Blair, wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, on Thursday became the latest in a long list of high-profile figures to sue Rupert Murdoch’s media group, News International, claiming that her phone was hacked by the News of the World.

She is also suing Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective jailed in 2007 for intercepting voicemails of members of the royal family for NoW.

Ms. Blair’s lawyer, Graham Atkins, said in a statement: “I can confirm that we have issued a claim on behalf of Cherie Blair in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails.”

The move will embarrass Mr. Murdoch given his close relations with the Blairs in the past. Mr. Blair, who cultivated Mr. Murdoch heavily to win his newspapers’ support, is godfather to Mr. Murdoch’s youngest daughter, Chloe.

It is also likely to cast a shadow over the News International’s planned launch of a new paper – The Sun on Sunday — to replace NoW which Mr. Murdoch shut down last summer in a bid to draw a line under the hacking scandal.

During Mr. Blair’s prime ministership, the NoW published a number of stories about the Blairs’ private life. At the time it was suspected that someone from inside Downing Street including Ms. Blair’s style guru Carole Caplin might be leaking information but that view changed after the hacking scandal erupted.

Alistair Campbell, Mr. Blair’s former communications chief, told the commission inquiring into the scandal that it was “possible” that Ms. Blair’s phone was hacked. He said he had no evidence “but knowing what we do now about hacking and the extent of it, I think it is at least possible this is how the stories got out”.

“They often involved details of where Cherie was going, the kind of thing routinely discussed on phones when planning visits, private as well as public,” he said.

Ms. Blair’s claim is among a clutch of new cases filed by phone hacking victims. News International has already paid several million pounds in compensation and legal expenses to more than 50 victims.

Labour MP Tom Watson, a member of the parliamentary committee inquiring into the scandal, described Ms. Blair’s move a “very significant development”.

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