MP accepts 'substantial damages' after phone hacked by The Sun
The MP for Mitcham and Morden has accepted "substantial damages" after The Sun newspaper admitted they had accessed private information from her stolen mobile phone.
Siobhain McDonagh’s Blackberry phone was stolen from her car in Colliers Wood in October 2010.
In June 2012 police officers from Operation Tuleta, which is investigating computer hacking and other forms of privacy invasions, confirmed text messages on her phone had been accessed.
Ms McDonagh launched legal action for invasion of privacy against the newspaper’s publishers, News International, in September 2012 - two months after a 35-year-old Sun journalist was arrested and bailed on suspicion of handling stolen goods.
The arrest came in relation to a reported phone call from a member of the public who said they had an MP’s mobile phone.
At a hearing in the High Court on December 21, 2012, News International admitted liability and said there had been a "serious misuse" of her private information.
Today, The Sun agreed to pay "very substantial damages" to the MP and legal costs following a further hearing in the High Court.
Speaking after the decision, Ms McDonagh said: "I wish it hadn’t happened because large numbers of perfectly innocent people had their privacy breached because my phone was stolen as I had a large number of people people’s numbers on my phone.
"This is only 50 per cent of the way there because this is the basis of a criminal prosecution.
"People need to be sure and secure in the knowledge that if they get abused in any way by the press of have their privacy breached in any way that they have a cheap and easy way of redress.
"There has to be an arbitrary process that doesn’t cost tens of thousands of pounds and that’s what I want out of today."
She added: "For me, personally, I’m in public life and so I don’t expect the same privacy as someone who was unelected, but I felt most uneasy that people who had texted me had had their information exposed to a newspaper which they had not intended.
"Constituents trust me with text messages about quite personal issues and it’s just not right on any level."
At the High Court, the newspaper's legal team said: "[News International] accept that the information on the claimant’s mobile telephone should not have been accessed and used and, furthermore, accept there has been a serious misuse of her private information.
"Through me, they offer their unreserved apology to the claimant for what has happened.
"Furthermore they have undertaken to the court not to use any information so obtained not to access of attempt to access by unlawful means the claimant’s private information."
Last month saw a number of cash settlements made to victims of phone hacking, including a former Merton councillor, Amanda Ramsay, who was a cabinet member and daughter of a Wimbledon police officer.