City law firm Silverman Sherliker has doubled the number of ex-News of the World (NoW) employees it is advising and says they have ‘a very strong case’ for launching a stigma damage action against News International (NI).
Managing partner Chris Sherliker launched an online action group for sacked NoW staff on 8 July with a view to launching a class action-style claim against NI. The claim would state that the former employees’ careers have been damaged by their association with NI during the phone-hacking scandal (8 July 2011).
The action group attracted about 20 expressions of interest within its first 24 hours and Sherliker said the firm’s number of NoW clients was continuing to grow and included senior managers and editors of the axed tabloid.
While employees are still in the midst of a 90-day consultation period and awaiting compensation offers from NI, Sherliker said several senior staff had already reported receiving cool receptions from prospective employers because of their link towhat he termed the “tainted” newspaper.
“A lot of people are completely confused about their position and there’s a high degree of fear and apprehension among the more senior people as to what’s going to become of them,” he said. “It’s been made clear to some of them by other employers they’ve approached that there’s no possibility they’ll be offered employment because of their involvement in NoW.”
Sherliker said a group litigation could be launched as soon as September, depending on what level of compensation and other pay-offs are eventually offered by NI.
“It’ll be the only way these people can get any money unless the company decides to pay them off,” he said.
Commenting on the likely timeframe for any court action, he added: “I suspect we’re talking about a number of months, but the making of a group litigation order may expedite a number of other cases.”
Silverman Sherliker is due to meet with two sets of chambers during August to insruct counsel and is also in negotiations with costs funders in preparation for possibly launching the litigation.