News Corp financial results show hacking legal bill nearing $200m

News Corporation has paid out nearly $200m (£126m) in legal costs over the phone-hacking scandal to date, with the majority spent on external advice, according to the company’s latest financial results.

The figures, contained within the company’s results for the last three months of 2011, show the media giant paid out $87m (£55m) in legal fees and investigations into phone-hacking at its now defunct newspaper News of the World (NoW) during the period up to 31 December last year.

The costs come in addition to a total of $108m (£68m) News Corp spent during the previous quarter, $17m (£11m) of which had not been previously disclosed. The costs principally went towards restructuring its UK newspaper business after the closure of NoW.

Around 85% of the costs were attributed to “fees to outside lawyers and advisers working on various investigations and committee hearings in the UK”, with the remaining 15% relating to legal settlements, largely paid to phone-hacking victims, amounting to around $15m (£9.4m).

The bill was substantially higher than News Corp had expected, and the company said that it could not forecast what its expenditure would be on legal fees and external advisers on the hacking scandal for the full year.

The NoW closure is expected to contribute to a decline in revenues for the company’s UK publishing business of around $150m (£95m).

Linklaters, Olswang and 11 South Square have all taken key advisory roles on the raft of settlements, most of which have been resolved in recent weeks. Olswang replaced former News Corp adviser Farrer & Co to handle civil claims relating to the NoW phone-hacking in October last year.

News Corp last year appointed Lord Grabiner QC to chair a high-level management and standards committee charged with leading the company’s response to the wider hacking claims, while the company also recently named Washington DC litigator Gerson Zweifach as its new general counsel following the departure of Lawrence Jacobs last year.