The wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair has begun legal action over the alleged interception of her private phone messages, her lawyer said Wednesday, making her the latest public figure to be drawn into a hacking scandal that has shaken the country's media.
Barrister Cherie Blair, 57, issued a statement through a London law firm that has pursued phone-hacking cases against Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers on behalf of several high profile clients.
I can confirm that we have issued a claim on behalf of Cherie Blair in relation to the unlawful interception of her voicemails, lawyer Graham Atkins, of Atkins Thomson, said in the statement.
Atkins was not immediately available to comment further. The law firm said it would not add to the statement and a spokesman refused to say who Blair was suing. No one at her office was immediately available for comment.
Murdoch's British newspaper arm, News International, has settled a string of legal claims over phone hacking in recent months. Actors Jude Law and Sienna Miller and former England soccer player Paul Gascoigne are among those who have accepted damages.
The company argued for years that the hacking of voicemails to generate stories was the work of a single rogue reporter who went to jail for the crime in 2007.
But it later accepted that the problem was widespread, sparking a scandal that led to the closure of Murdoch's News of the World newspaper and rocked the British press, police and political establishment.
A News International spokeswoman said the company had no comment on the Cherie Blair statement.
Prime Minister David Cameron has set up a judge-led inquiry to look into press standards, phone hacking and illegal payments made by the media to the police which is ongoing.
During her husband's decade in power, Cherie Blair had an often uncomfortable relationship with the media. She later complained that much of the coverage of her at the time was distorted or inaccurate.
When she and her husband left the prime minister's Downing Street office for the last time in 2007, Cherie Blair turned to the waiting media pack and said: I won't miss you.
(Reporting by Peter Griffiths, editing by Andrew Osborn)