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Rupert Murdoch 'turned a blind eye' to phone hacking allegations at the News Of The World and The Sun, High Court told

Rupert Murdoch "turned a blind eye" to allegations of phone hacking as publisher of the defunct News Of The World, but would have been aware of it seven years before the paper closed, the High Court has been told.

Lawyers for a group of 45 individuals suing News Group Newspapers (NGN), including the Duke of Sussex, said that the media mogul and other senior company figures made "dishonest" statements over the extent of phone hacking at the paper, which shut down in 2011.

Mr Murdoch was executive chairman of News Corp and director of NGN's parent company and News Corp's subsidiary, News International, now News UK, at the time the paper closed.

His status meant he would have known about phones being hacked as early as 2004 and "was aware of the nature and extent of NGN's wrongdoing" when allegations were first published by the Guardian in 2009, the group's barrister, David Sherborne, said in court documents.

The group's legal team said they will also aim to show that, after the accusations were made, Mr Murdoch knew News Corp's public denial was false "or at the very least turned a blind eye to its veracity and that of the allegations".

The 45 individuals allege that the News Of The World and The Sun, owned by NGN, unlawfully gathered information, including by using private investigators.

A trial is set for January next year.

The News Of The World was shut down in July 2011 after widespread allegations of phone hacking, and NGN has since settled many claims with high-profile figures.

There are also multiple allegations made about the involvement of senior NGN executives, including former NGN chief executive Rebekah Brooks and former News International general manager Will Lewis.

Among other allegations, the individuals' lawyers have accused NGN of "systematically" deleting millions of emails and of "buying the silence of those who might tell the truth" about what senior executives knew about the hacking.

The unlawful activity continued even during the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking, they said, including allegedly using private investigators against the then Liberal Democrat MP, Sir Vince Cable, and actor Hugh Grant, who were giving evidence to the inquiry.

Mr Murdoch oversaw a "culture of impunity" at the publisher, which "has actively sought to conceal evidence of the true nature, scale and extent of these unlawful activities at both The News Of The World and The Sun," Mr Sherborne said.

In written submissions, Anthony Hudson KC, representing NGN, accused the individuals' lawyers of making accusations "designed to grab headlines" rather than progress the individuals' claims.

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A spokesperson for NGN said it had made an "unreserved apology" in 2011 to victims of phone hacking at the News Of The World and has since been paying damages to the victims of wrongdoing.

The hearing is due to conclude on Friday.