A group of British phone hacking victims is looking to the other side of the Atlantic in search of higher compensation from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Mark Lewis, a U.K. lawyer representing the New of the World hacking victims, has retained a U.S. attorney who previously represented the families of those killed on 9/11 to explore whether legal action can be taken against Murdoch’s media empire in American courts, the Associated Press reports.
While still in the early stages, the potential U.S. lawsuit could increase the scope of the scandal that has made the previously seemingly invincible Murdoch an easy target both at home and abroad.
News Corp., based in the U.S., is the parent of News International, the British company behind the News of the World and other tabloids.
The U.S. attorney, Norman Siegel, is evaluating the possibility of a class action suit against News Corp. and its directors. According to the Guardian, such a case would use "American foreign corruption laws, which make it illegal for U.S. companies to pay bribes to government officials abroad."
Lewis announced his intentions on Sky News and the BBC with few details, according to the AP report. He did clarify that the U.S. case would not include accusations that NotW reporters hacked into the phones of 9/11 victims, rumors that News Corp. execs have dismissed as "anonymous speculation."
So, if the case has nothing to do with the rumor that first widened the scope of the scandal to include the U.S., then why seek action in American courts?
CNN quotes Lewis's reasoning: "[B]ecause it is in our clients' interests to pursue their cases as thoroughly and properly as possible.” The lawyer added that "compensation is likely to be higher from U.S. courts than courts in the U.K."
The announcement comes a few days after News International announced that it was negotiating a compensation settlement with the family of Milly Dowler. Dowler was abducted and murdered in 2002 at the age of 13. The phone hacking scandal ignited earlier this summer when it was revealed that NotW hacked into Dowler's voicemail while she was missing.