Steve McFadden has accepted ‘substantial damages’ from the publishers of the News Of The World newspaper and the Metropolitan Police after taking legal action in the wake of phone hacking revelations, a High Court judge has been told.
A police officer had sold information about McFadden – who plays Phil Mitchell in the BBC drama EastEnders – to a News of the World journalist in 2010, Mr Justice Mann heard.
The star had also been a target of voicemail interception by the same journalist, lawyers told a High Court hearing in London.
Two other celebrities had also accepted damages from News Group Newspapers – which published the News Of The World until it closed in 2011 – after taking legal action, the judge was told.
Interior designer Kelly Hoppen, the stepmother of actress Sienna Miller, had sued after evidence emerged that her voicemail messages had been intercepted, the judge heard.
Model Keeley Hazell had complained that her messages were targeted.
“For years, false and private information about me has appeared in the press,” said McFadden outside court. “Although I am pleased to finally understand how some of this information came to be published, I am particularly concerned that a police officer sold my privacy to a tabloid newspaper for profit. I consider the payment of damages and public apology will go some way to ensuring respect for my and others’ privacy in future.”
He added: “I am glad to have been vindicated and to be able to put this matter behind me.”
His solicitor, Tamsin Allen, who works for law firm Bindmans, added: “This is a case where there was no possible public interest in the sale of this information. An officer failed in his duty to the public by seeking a private profit from a newspaper that was prepared to corrupt a public servant. This was the reality of journalism at the News Of The World.”
Ms Allen had told the judge that police had ‘raided’ McFadden’s home in March 2010 to ‘search for guns’. She said the raid followed a ‘false allegation’ made by McFadden’s former partner and ‘no guns were found’.
She said in the same month police officer Sam Azouelos had sold private information about McFadden to News of the World journalist Dan Evans.
McFadden alleged that as a result an article, written by Mr Evans, had appeared in the newspaper containing detail of the raid and other ‘private information’.
Ms Allen said Mr Evans had admitted misconduct in public office involving the payment of £750 to Mr Azouelos. She said Mr Azouelos had also admitted misconduct in public office.
She said in October 2010, following another ‘false allegation’ by McFadden’s ex-partner, the actor had been arrested outside his home without warning ‘in the presence of a photographer’.
The following month the News of the World had published an article about McFadden’s arrest.
Ms Allen said in January 2013 McFadden had been told by police that he had been a target of voicemail interception by Evans – on behalf of the News of the World.
She said Evans had admitted attempting to or ‘probably intercepting’ the actor’s voicemail messages.
And she said McFadden had sued News Group and the Metropolitan Police for ‘misuse of private information’.
Ms Allen told the judge that both had agreed to pay McFadden ‘substantial damages’ – plus his legal costs. Lawyers for News Group and the Metropolitan Police offered ‘sincere apologies’ to McFadden on behalf of their clients.
David Sherborne, for Hoppen, said the designer had taken legal action in 2010 following an attempt to access her voicemails by Mr Evans in 2009.
He said in 2013 police had told Hoppen that they had evidence of 23 calls made by Mr Evans to her phone in 2005 and 2006. And he said Hoppen had begun more legal action this year.
He said News Group accepted that voicemail messages were intercepted by Mr Evans and that there had been ‘further misuses of her private information’.
News Group had agreed to pay a ‘substantial amount’ in damages and Hoppen’s legal costs.
A lawyer representing News Group offered ‘sincere apologies’ for the ‘distress caused’. Antony White QC said News Group accepted that ‘such activity’ should ‘never have taken place’. He said News Group had ‘undertaken’ that ‘this will not happen again’.