Murdoch UK Hacking Scandal Comes to America

PHOTO: Mark Lewis, solicitor of the Dowler family, leaves after giving evidence to The Leveson Inquiry at The Royal Courts of Justice.PlayGetty Images
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The hacking scandal rocking media mogul Rupert Murdoch's British tabloids is coming to America.

High-profile British attorney Mark Lewis is planning for the first time to sue in the United States on behalf of alleged hacking victims, his office confirms. The legal action would be the first to strike at the heart of Murdoch's global media empire.

Lewis will sue on behalf of three people, none of whom have yet been identified. At least one is thought to be American.

"Some of them were in America at the time, either traveling or resident there," Lewis told the BBC.

It's still not clear when and where the legal action would be filed.

Jack Horner, a vice president of corporate communications at News Corp. said the company would not comment on the pending court action. News Corp. is the parent company of News International, the Murdoch family's British newspaper subsidiary. News Corp. also owns the Fox News Channel.

In the BBC interview, Lewis said it was significant that legal action over phone hacking is moving outside the UK for the first time.

"The scandal as it is is not just then confined to the United Kingdom or to the United Kingdom companies like News International and News Group Newspapers," he said.

"This goes to the heartland of News Corporation and we'll be looking at the involvement of the parent company in terms of claims there and that is something that will be taken more seriously by perhaps the investors and shareholders in News Corporation."

Mark Lewis has been a thorn in Rupert Murdoch's side since the hacking scandal emerged several years ago. He has filed suits on behalf of a number of hacking victims, including a 2007 lawsuit on behalf of a hacked soccer official. That case is thought to be the first legal action in the hacking scandal.

Lewis also represents the family of Milly Dowler, the abducted teen who was found murdered outside London in 2002. Dowler's voice mail was thought to have been hacked after she disappeared. The case sparked public outrage at the tabloid press and the furor eventually led to the closure of The News of the World.

Lewis hasn't named his three clients in the US action, claiming issues of privacy.

"I don't think all three would be described as high profile," he told the BBC. "One is what we would call collateral damage, they came across perhaps leaving messages and were recorded by the News of the World in England but was an American citizen," he said.

"The other two people are people from outside Britain, who happened to be there - they think - at the time they were hacked."

Lewis also said that there was potential for more cases in the US courts and that he was working with other UK lawyers wanting to pursue claims there.

News International has paid out millions in compensation settlements in the wake of the hacking scandal, with some British media reporting that the company offered at least $3 million to the Dowler family.

More than 4,000 people have been identified by police as possible victims of phone hacking, according to the BBC.

Scotland Yard is currently conducting three investigations relating to the scandal and a judge-led inquiry has been examining relations between the press, politicians and police.