Phone hacking: Mirror Group to pay damages to ex-partner of Kerry Katona

David Cunningham wins apology and ‘substantial’ damages over articles published in 2005 and 2006

A former partner of Kerry Katona has won an apology for phone hacking and “substantial” damages from the publisher of the Mirror.

David Cunningham, an engineer, brought a claim against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), which also publishes the People and the Sunday Mirror, over 36 articles published in 2005 and 2006 while he was in a relationship with the former Atomic Kitten singer.

At the high court in London on Monday, Cunningham’s solicitor read a statement saying MGN had admitted misuse of the claimant’s private information on five occasions, instructing private investigators to unlawfully obtain such information.

Ellen Gallagher of Hamlins LLP told the court: “Mr Cunningham used his voicemail extensively, and regularly exchanged voicemail messages with Ms Katona and his close friends and family during this time, and the content of those voicemails included highly sensitive private information relating to Mr Cunningham’s and Ms Katona’s relationship, travel and medical information. Mr Cunningham asserted that the information contained in MGN’s articles could only have been obtained through phone hacking and other unlawful means of information gathering.

“Mr Cunningham was and remains shocked and upset at the extent of MGN’s targeting of him, which included the engagement of private investigators to obtain private information about him and his associates.”

Gallagher said that MGN had agreed to pay Cunningham “substantial damages” as well as legal costs and had “agreed to join in this statement to apologise”.

Alexander Vakil from RPC, acting for MGN, said. “The defendant offers its sincere apologies to Mr Cunningham for the damage and distress caused to him by the misuse of his private information over 15 years ago. The defendant acknowledges that Mr Cunningham’s private information should not have been obtained and used in the manner that it was.”

Cunningham issued proceedings against MGN in 2018 and the following year the publisher served its defence admitting the five instances of misuse of personal information. However, the case has only just been resolved on confidential terms, with Gallagher saying that MGN forced her client “to the brink of trial before it saw sense and agreed terms of settlement”.

In a statement after the hearing, Cunningham, who was engaged to Katona, said: “I was robbed of a normal relationship with Kerry, I believe because of MGN’s greed to make money. MGN treated me like a puppet as it was always pulling the strings. I felt as though I was on a gameshow, with MGN controlling what was going on. Even now, I am embarrassed that MGN knew the intimate details of my and Kerry’s lives. MGN had no right to publish the articles about me and Kerry.

“I have been put through hell and, by dragging out my claim, MGN has made me re-live a very painful period of my life for no good reason.”

Hamlins said it continued to act for a large number of individuals in phone hacking litigation against MGN and Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, publisher of the Sun and the now defunct News of the World, as it sought “to expose the full extent of unlawful information-gathering activity by the newspapers and seek appropriate redress for the misuse of their private information”.


Haroon Siddique Legal affairs correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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