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Tony Blair’s wife sues News Corp.

LONDON - Cherie Blair, the wife of Britain’s former prime minister, is suing News Corp. and a former private investigator who hacked into celebrities’ voice mail messages to get stories for the now-defunct News of the World tabloid.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, comes as News Corp. prepares for the start on Monday of the first civil trial related to the scandal. The company has already settled phone-hacking claims by Tony Blair’s former press chief, Alastair Campbell, and former deputy prime minister John Prescott.

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch shuttered the News of the World in July in a bid to contain public anger after it was revealed the tabloid hacked into the voice mail messages of a slain schoolgirl. While most of the current lawsuits have been settled, the company still faces possible claims by more than 800 likely victims identified by police.

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A message left with the press office of News Corp.’s British unit was not immediately returned. Full details of the suit were not available yesterday.

Tony Blair’s representatives referred calls to Cherie Blair’s lawyers, who did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Campbell told an inquiry into British media ethics in November that, in light of the number of stories published about Cherie Blair, he accused her assistant Carole Caplin of leaking stories. Caplin has since been told her phone was also hacked, he said.