The singer Ronan Keating has accepted “substantial damages” from the publisher of the News of the World over phone hacking.
Keating, known for being part of Irish boyband Boyzone and his subsequent solo career, brought legal action against News Group Newspapers (NGN) in April 2020, claiming his voicemail messages had been intercepted by its journalists.
At a hearing in London on Monday, the high court heard the singer had identified a number of suspicious articles published between 1996 and 2011 that he said contained private information.
Ellen Gallagher, representing Keating, told the court: “Mr Keating claimed that his voicemail messages were intercepted by the defendant’s journalists and consequently these journalists were privy to private and confidential voicemail messages left on his mobile telephone by others, such as his family and friends.”
Keating, who became a permanent presenter on BBC One’s The One Show in May, also claimed NGN had obtained his personal information through deception.
Gallagher added: “Mr Keating further asserted that, as a result of the defendant’s publications, he became suspicious as to who might be the source of the private information that was being published in the defendant’s newspapers.
“Mr Keating alleged that the publication of the articles generated distrust which impacted on his relationships and caused him considerable distress and upset.”
At the hearing before Mr Justice Fancourt, the court was told Keating had accepted NGN’s offer to settle his claim. As part of the settlement, NGN has agreed to pay “substantial damages” to Keating, as well as his reasonable legal costs.
“The defendant has agreed to join in this statement to apologise to Mr Keating publicly 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,” Gallagher said.
NGN did not admit any liability in relation to allegations of phone hacking at the publisher’s other paper, the Sun.
Ben Silverstone, representing NGN, said: “The defendant is here today, through me, to offer 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.”
Since the phone-hacking scandal led to the closure of the News of the World in 2011, NGN has settled a number of damages claims concerning unlawful information-gathering – but has never admitted liability in relation to alleged phone hacking at the Sun.
Speaking after the hearing, Keating said: “I am delighted NGN has now accepted responsibility for publishing countless articles about my and my family’s private life that should have remained private.
“For many years I was suspicious as to how my private information was being obtained and I am overjoyed that I can now put this episode behind me and move on.”