Image: May-Bowles makes his way past cameras as he arrives for sentencing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in London
Suzanne Plunkett  /  Reuters
Jonathan May-Bowles arrives for sentencing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Tuesday. news services
updated 8/5/2011 11:35:09 AM ET 2011-08-05T15:35:09

A judge has cut the sentence of an activist who hit Rupert Murdoch with a shaving-cream pie as the mogul testified to British lawmakers about the phone-hacking scandal.

Jonathan May-Bowles, 26, was sentenced Tuesday to six weeks in jail for assaulting the 80-year-old media tycoon as he gave evidence to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee on July 19.

A judge on Friday rejected his attempt to overturn the sentence, but reduced it to four weeks.

Also Friday, several alleged victims of tabloid phone hacking in Britain will soon file lawsuits against a second newspaper group, Trinity Mirror PLC, their lawyer said. Trinity Mirror is a former employer of CNN host Piers Morgan, who was the editor of the group's Daily Mirror title when phone hacking was at its height.

Mark Lewis said the claims would be filed in "a few weeks," but would not disclose identities of his clients or say precisely when the papers would be lodged at court.

Lewis represents the family of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl abducted and murdered by a serial killer in 2002. The revelation a month ago that her voicemail messages had been accessed by the News of the World while she was still missing outraged British opinion, and triggered a crisis for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

The phone hacking scandal centers on allegations that journalists eavesdropped on private phone messages, bribed police for information and hacked email accounts.

Troubled empire
So far the crisis has centered on Murdoch's media empire, leading him to shut down the News of the World tabloid and abandon a bid to take over British Sky Broadcasting. Several former executives of the newspaper have been arrested by police investigating the eavesdropping.

Dominic Lipinski  /  AP
Former Beatle Paul McCartney has been drawn into Britain's phone hacking scandal.

But there have also been allegations of hacking by other newspapers. This week Paul McCartney's ex-wife, Heather Mills, claimed in a BBC interview that she was hacked by a Trinity Mirror journalist in 2001.

McCartney said Thursday that he planned to contact police over the claim.

"I will be talking to them about that," McCartney told the U.S. television journalists by videolink from Cincinnati, Ohio.

The BBC did not identify the journalist cited by Mills, but said it was not Piers Morgan, who was editor of the group's flagship tabloid, the Daily Mirror, between 1995 and 2004.

Morgan has repeatedly denied ordering anyone to spy on voicemails or knowingly publishing stories obtained through hacking.

But in an article published by the Daily Mail in 2006, Morgan said that he had been played a tape of a message McCartney had left on Mills' cell phone in the wake of one of their fights.

"It was heartbreaking," Morgan wrote. "He sounded lonely, miserable and desperate, and even sang 'We Can Work It Out' into the answerphone."

Questions over how Morgan came to hear the message have led several British lawmakers to call on him to return to the U.K. and explain himself.

Call for probe
Lawmaker John Whittingdale, chairman of a parliamentary committee that is investigating hacking by the News of the World, said Thursday that Morgan "absolutely should" come to Britain to answer questions.

Whittingdale said "there is evidence to suggest that other newspapers were involved in phone hacking" — and that police should investigate.

Both Trinity Mirror and the publisher of Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, keen to stop the scandal spreading to them, have announced reviews of editorial procedures in the wake of the revelations about the scale of wrongdoing at the News of the World.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

© 2013

Video: Pie-thrower takes last shot at Murdoch

Timeline: Tabloid stir: Phone-hacking scandal intensifies


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