London: Charlotte Church has said that she was ‘sickened and disgusted’ by the News of the World’s phone hacking which directly led to 33 articles appearing in the newspaper about her and her family.
The 26-year-old singer made the comments as she appeared at London’s High Court to accept 600,0000 pounds in compensation from News Group Newspapers (NGN), which owns the now defunct tabloid, the Daily Mail reported.
Lawyers said the stories included an article published about her father having an affair and taking cocaine, which they published despite the paper knowing that her mother had just attempted suicide.
She said money ‘could never mend’ the damage that was done but she planned to put the payout towards protecting herself and her children from further invasions of their privacy.
“What I have discovered as the litigation has gone on has sickened and disgusted me,” Church said in a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice.
“Nothing was deemed off limits by those who pursued me and my family, just to make money for a multinational news corporation. In my opinion, they are not truly sorry, only sorry they got caught,” she added.
The settlement includes 300,000 pounds in legal costs and a public apology and follows months of legal wrangling.
In November, the Leveson Inquiry heard that Church’s mother tried to commit suicide shortly before the News of the World published a story about her partner having an affair and taking cocaine.
The front page story ran in December 2005 under the headline ‘Church three in a bed cocaine shock’.
Phones belonging to the Church family were hacked and staff knew about her mother’s suicide attempt but published the story anyway, lawyers said.
The newspaper then made a ‘Faustian pact’ with the singer’s mother that they would not publish lurid follow-up story about her husband’s affair if she did an exclusive interview.
The inquiry also heard Church claim she waived a 100,000-pound fee to sing at Rupert Murdoch’s wedding to Wendi Deng in 1999 in return for favourable coverage in his newspapers. News International denied an offer was made.
However, the singer said she was betrayed by the media tycoon, whose publications she claims have attacked her throughout her career.
In addition, she said her overnight success as the ‘Voice of an Angel’ when she was just 11 had warped her childhood and meant she was hunted by paparazzi for years, with newspapers determined to portray her as a ‘fallen angel’.
Church said that her parents had suffered as much as she had in their treatment by the company.
“Whatever I have had to go through, they have suffered as well. They have been harassed, put under surveillance, and my mother was bullied into revealing her own private medical condition for no other reason than they were my parents. Someone in a newspaper thought that was OK. How can that be, in any right-thinking society?” the singer stated.
She said she was ‘happy’ with the result in one sense, but added that she had discovered that, despite an apology, “these people were prepared to go to any lengths to prevent me exposing their behaviour”, including forcing her mother to relive the ‘enormous personal distress’ she had been caused in 2005.
“It seems they have learned nothing, and I would have learned nothing more from an actual trial since it was clear that no-one from News International was prepared to take the stand to explain their actions,” she added.
Church settled a lawsuit against News International on February 23.