David Cunningham, a private individual, today accepted a public apology from MGN Limited (“MGN”), the publisher of The Mirror, the People, and the Sunday Mirror for MGN’s invasion of his privacy.
In addition, MGN has agreed to pay the maintenance engineer and father of two substantial damages and provide undertakings that it will not access or attempt to access his private information by unlawful means.
Mr Cunningham’s claim focused on 36 articles published about events which occurred when he was the partner and fiancé of Kerry Katona, the singer, TV personality and former Atomic Kitten, which should have remained private.
Ellen Gallagher of Hamlins LLP, Mr Cunningham’s lawyer, informed the Court that:
“In November 2018, Mr Cunningham issued proceedings against MGN claiming that his voicemail messages were intercepted by MGN’’s journalists and consequently these journalists were privy to private and confidential voicemail messages left on his mobile telephone by others, such as Ms Katona and his family and friends.
“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.”
MGN has also agreed to the payment of Mr Cunningham’s legal costs.
In a statement following the hearing, Mr Cunningham, 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 game show, 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.
“I would like to thank the entire team at Hamlins for their hard work and patience during this process. They have provided me with impeccable service, and I know I had the best possible lawyers for the job. In addition, I would like to give a special mention to Christopher Hutchings and Ellen Gallagher for their support and hard work; I would not be in the position I am now without them.”
Ellen Gallagher added:
“MGN had no right to misuse Mr Cunningham’s private information. MGN’s actions were abhorrent and there was plainly no reason for its newspapers to target Mr Cunningham other than because of his relationship with Kerry Katona. Unfortunately, the newspapers’ unlawful targeting of private individuals to obtain their private information and that of their associates, as in Mr Cunningham’s case, was commonplace. It is appalling MGN forced Mr Cunningham to the brink of trial before it saw sense and agreed terms of settlement and shocking that it has taken almost exactly four years for the case to be concluded. I am delighted for Dave that, eventually, MGN has been held to account for its unlawful acts.”
Hamlins continues to act for a large number of individuals in the phone hacking litigation against MGN and also NGN, and to fight in the civil courts to expose the full extent of unlawful information gathering activity by the newspapers and seek appropriate redress for the misuse of their private information.