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Sienna Miller says Sun used ‘illegal means’ to find out pregnancy

·4 min read
<span>Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA</span>
Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

Sienna Miller believes details of her 2005 pregnancy were obtained by the then editor of the Sun, Rebekah Brooks, using “blatantly unlawful means”, a court has heard. Miller also believes phone hacking was practised by journalists at Rupert Murdoch’s daily tabloid newspaper.

“I was told at the end of July 2005, by my friend and publicist, that Rebekah Brooks had found out that I was pregnant,” said Miller, in an excerpt from a draft statement read out by her lawyer at the high court.

Miller said her pregnancy was then at a very early stage but Brooks knew about it before the actor had even been able to tell close family and friends.

The court heard that Miller believes that her medical records were obtained by a “blagger” employed by Sun journalist Nick Parker before being passed to Brooks.

When the story eventually became public, Miller said she felt the “the Sun took away her choice” in how to approach the pregnancy, the court heard.

There has been no admission or finding of any wrongdoing on behalf of the Sun or any of those named.

Miller, who flew in from Los Angeles for the phone-hacking hearing at the high court on Wednesday, said she had wanted to take the Sun to trial over her claims of illegal information gathering at the newspaper.

However, the actor has instead decided to accept a payout from Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers because demanding a public trial would have been likely to leave her with a multimillion-pound legal bill. She has already won substantial damages over similar activity at its sister title, the News of the World.

At one point during the hearing, News Group attempted to stop journalists reporting on the arguments over what could be included in the public settlements of three phone-hacking victims.

Murdoch’s company argued that other media outlets could not be trusted to fairly report on proceedings. The Guardian and the BBC jointly hired a lawyer to successfully challenge this proposal, ensuring the argument could be heard in open court with journalists present.

Miller believes the decision by News Group to give her a substantial financial settlement and avoid a public trial of her claims of wrongdoing at the Sun is “tantamount to an admission of liability on the part of the Sun”, the court heard.

Murdoch’s company dispute this interpretation and continue to deny that any phone hacking took place at the Sun. They claim illegal activity exclusively took place at the News of the World.

Despite this position, Murdoch’s company has continued to agree very large financial settlements with individuals such as Miller who allege their personal information was illegally obtained by individuals working for the Sun. These settlements ensure the cases do not head to open court, where claims could be aired in detail.

In an extensive debate over what could be included in a public statement, Miller’s lawyer, David Sherborne, said the actor firmly believed she was the “subject of unlawful gathering techniques from around 2003”, when Brooks became editor of the Sun.

Miller believes this included the hacking of voicemails “by journalists from the Sun” operating with the knowledge of “the editor and senior executives” at the Sun. “Miss Brooks is named repeatedly as being heavily involved in these activities, as well as in the concealment of incriminating evidence,” argued Sherborne.

Brooks, now chief executive of News UK, overseeing all of Murdoch’s British businesses, has previously been cleared of phone-hacking charges in a criminal trial.

Justice Fancourt, sitting at the high court, said of the claims about the Sun and Brooks in Miller’s draft statement: “It is not to be taken as a statement that illegal activities were being carried on, but that Ms Miller believes that is what was happening.”

A full agreed statement will be read out in court on Thursday morning.

Earlier in the day, more than a dozen phone-hacking cases, many of them alleging illegal behaviour at the Sun, were settled by Murdoch’s company on the condition there was no admission of wrongdoing at the daily newspaper.

The group who settled their cases and accepted damages included actor Sean Bean, Texas lead singer Sharleen Spiteri and ex-cricketer Shane Warne. Former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas, ex-television presenter Dani Behr, singer Dane Bowers, and footballer Paul Gascoigne were also among those who received payouts.

Hundreds of individuals have now settled phone-hacking claims against News Group Newspapers over the last 15 years, with further cases, including Prince Harry’s, still working through the system.

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