Daily Mirror says Prince Harry verdict will limit its phone-hacking bill

LONDON (Reuters) – The publisher of Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper apologised after a ruling in Prince Harry’s favour over phone-hacking but said the judgment would limit future compensation claims, helping to draw a line under the long-running scandal.

While Daily Mirror parent company Reach apologised “unreservedly” on Friday, it also said it would benefit from clarity provided by the judgment which means the 45.5 million pounds ($57.8 million) set aside would be enough to cover the bill for historical wrongdoing.

Shares in Reach rose 6% following the group’s response to the ruling.

Phone-hacking, the illegal interception of voicemails on mobile phones, first came to public attention in Britain in 2006, before the issue blew up in 2011, leading to the closure of a tabloid newspaper and a full public inquiry.

Reach said the awards made by the judge to Prince Harry and others on Friday were lower than the claims sought by the victims, and the impact of the judgment on legal limitation meant the number of current claims against it would be reduced and all or most future claims barred.

“We welcome today’s judgment that gives the business the necessary clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago,” Reach Chief Executive Jim Mullen said.

“Where historical wrongdoing took place, we apologise unreservedly, have taken full responsibility and paid appropriate compensation.”

The Mirror group admitted liability for phone-hacking in 2014 after years of denials, and has since settled more than 600 claims at a cost of around 106 million pounds.

Reach’s shares have lost 25% of its value over the last 12 months, as the group struggles with high inflation, the negative impact of changes to a Facebook algorithm which has deprioritised news content, and a tough advertising market.

($1 = 0.7869 pounds)

(Reporting by Paul Sandle, additional reporting by Sarah Young, Editing by Kylie MacLellan, William Maclean)