Teacher ran up £84k legal bills in winning £20k payout for footballer story


A teacher who sued the publisher of a tabloid newspaper after detail of her relationship with a "successful premiership footballer" emerged as a result of her losing a mobile phone collected £20,000 in damages but ran up lawyers' bills of more than £80,000, a judge has said.

She took legal action after being contacted by a reporter from The Sunday People shortly after losing her mobile, a court was told.

Journalists had been approached by a "source" who knew the whereabouts of the teacher's phone and "revealed" her relationship with the soccer player.

The teacher said "all data" had been deleted from her phone before she got it back - and she claimed damages from publisher MGN.

Newspaper bosses agreed to pay the teacher £20,000 damages and to pick up her lawyers' bills.

Those bills have now been assessed at nearly £84,000.

Detail of the amount the teacher's lawyers earned has emerged in a judgment on the case - the latest ruling following a series of claims relating to tabloid journalists and allegations of phone hacking.

Specialist judge Andrew Gordon-Saker had overseen a detailed analysis of costs incurred at High Court hearings in London.

The judge said the woman had initially claimed that her legal costs were more than £240,000.

He said he had calculated the total bill to be nearly £84,000 after carrying out a detailed assessment of legal work done and hearing submissions from specialist lawyers on both sides.

The judge said he thought the £84,000 figure was reasonable and proportionate.

"There will be cases in which the costs bear a reasonable relationship to the sums in issue even though they exceed those sums," he said, in a written judgment.

"This is such a case."

He added: "The sum in issue in these proceedings was always going to be modest."

The teacher had been a relationship with the "successful premiership footballer" between 2008 and 2011 - and had lost her phone in 2011, the judge said.

She had MGN sued in 2013.

The judge did not identify the teacher or the footballer in his ruling.