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UK lawyer set to file phone hacking claims in U.S.

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 10:05 AM EDT, Thu April 12, 2012
British lawyer Mark Lewis said he would meet with U.S. lawyers in New York next week to discuss the cases.
British lawyer Mark Lewis said he would meet with U.S. lawyers in New York next week to discuss the cases.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lawyer Mark Lewis says he is about to take action in the U.S. on behalf of 3 clients
  • One of those clients is a U.S. citizen, he says
  • Lewis represents dozens of people in the UK who say their phones were hacked by Murdoch papers
  • The phone hacking scandal led to the closure of the UK's News of the World newspaper

London (CNN) -- British lawyer Mark Lewis said Thursday he is preparing to take legal action on behalf of three clients who believe their phones were hacked while they were in the United States.

One of his clients is a U.S. citizen, he told CNN, but he declined to reveal their identities.

Lewis said he would meet with U.S. lawyers face-to-face in New York next week to discuss the cases.

Among the other attorneys is Norman Siegel, a former head of the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Lewis said he had not yet approached News Corp., whose now defunct News of the World newspaper has been accused of hacking the voice mail of crime victims, politicians, celebrities and veterans in search of stories.

News International, the British publishing arm of News Corp., declined to comment on the matter.

Lewis represents dozens of individuals in the U.K. who say their phones were hacked by Murdoch's newspapers.

They include the family of Milly Dowler, a missing teenager whose voice mail was allegedly hacked by News of The World before she was found murdered. Public outrage over the claims led News International to shut down the best-selling Sunday tabloid in July.

Allegations also emerged that families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as relatives of 9/11 victims, had been targeted, and police officers bribed.

Police in London are investigating the hacking claims, as well as suspected corruption involving public officials.

Last year Lewis told CNN he was "looking to pursue legal action on the basis of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the United States, whereby a holding company can be liable for practices outside the jurisdiction where the offense is said to have taken place."

"Proceedings will be issued in the U.S. where we will seek information from the company's directors about those issues and about corporate governance."

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, enacted in 1977, makes it illegal for a U.S. citizen or company to pay foreign officials to obtain or retain business.

Potential liability flows from journalists at News of the World to its parent, News International, and to that company's parent, News Corp., which is a publicly held company in the United States, and runs Fox News.

News Corp. is owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch, who last year answered questions before a British parliamentary committee looking into press conduct.

He also made a personal apology to the parents of Milly Dowler, saying the behavior of News of the World had been "abhorrent."

CNN's Dan Rivers contributed to this report.

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