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Lawyer: News International faces 46 new lawsuits

Raphael Satter, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) -- Nearly 50 new phone hacking lawsuits have been filed against Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper company, a lawyer said Friday, sending the total number of cases to over 100.

Hugh Tomlinson told High Court Justice Geoffrey Vos that 46 claims had been filed in a second wave of legal action against News International, a subsidiary of New York-based News Corp.

He said the suits dealt with "a whole series of allegations" that went well beyond phone hacking.

"There is one admitted case of email hacking, blagging on a very large scale ... and so on," he said.

The development had been expected.

News International settled roughly 60 lawsuits with a variety of celebrities, sports stars, politicians and other public figures in the first wave of litigation which crested earlier this year.

At the time, lawyers warned that dozens more claims were on their way.

And more may be in the works: Vos joked Friday that new claimants were "still queuing up outside."

Friday's developments came during a procedural hearing ahead of a phone hacking trial scheduled for February. Lawyers also took the opportunity to spar over legal costs, which have taken a multimillion dollar bite out of News Corp.'s bottom line.

News Corp. lawyers argued that claimants should draw up itemized budgets to justify their fees. Vos seemed sympathetic, calling on claimants' lawyers to impose "sensibly strict cost control."

"There will be no sympathy for outrageous cost estimates," he said.

The phone hacking scandal erupted last year after it emerged that journalists at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid had illegally eavesdropped on public figures in their quest to stay ahead of the competition.

The controversy has since cast a shadow over Murdoch's News Corp., which owns the Fox News channel and The Wall Street Journal, and shaken Britain's media, its politicians and its police.