A British stunt double for actor Angelina Jolie has sued News Corporation alleging the media company hired private investigators to access her mobile phone voicemail messages to seek information for news stories.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, is the first News Corporation has faced in the US by someone claiming to have been a target of phone hacking, according to a person familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified.
Eunice Huthart of Liverpool contends the intercepts occurred while she was working in California in 2004-05, and had affected her marriage and family life, according to the complaint.
News Corporation's Sun and News of the World engaged in phone hacking ''to publish and exploit news articles concerning the private and confidential affairs'' of individuals ''to boost circulation and thereby increase profits'', Huthart said in court papers.
She said in the complaint that she sometimes had not received messages left on her mobile phone, and at one point her husband had ''suspected she was having an affair because she did not return his voice messages''.
Huthart had been ''despondent'' because she had missed overseas calls from her daughter, and ''believed she had failed as a parent'', according the complaint. Huthart said she had worked with Jolie on films including Beyond Borders, Tomb Raider II and Mr & Mrs Smith.
The stuntwoman alleges she had missed messages because rogue journalists tapping into her voice mail would erase it to thwart competition; let it move into ''save'' mode, eliminating the phone alert; or reset her PIN, so she was unable to access her messages and they would eventually disappear.
In the complaint, she cites violation of US wiretap laws and a California statute against privacy intrusion.
The New York-based company has been the focus of investigations during the past three years that uncovered alleged phone hacking and bribery at the two tabloids. News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch closed News of the World after revelations that journalists had illegally accessed messages on the mobile phone of a murdered schoolgirl.
Huthart seeks a jury trial, compensatory and punitive damages and return of ill-gotten proceeds from the hacking. News Corporation spokesman Nathaniel Brown declined to comment.