Watford's former MP Claire Ward has been awarded a substantial cash payout from News Group Newspapers relating to stories by the now defunct News of The World paper.

Ms Ward is a surprise entry on a growing list of people accepting a damages payout following the phone-hacking scandal, including Ulrika Jonsson and John Prescott.

The 36 civil damages claims were heard at the High Court today, regarding allegations against the News of the World newspaper.

Ms Ward accepted an undisclosed amount, along with court costs, which related to a number of stories between 2001 and 2005 which could not have been written without private information.

Footballer Ashley Cole, rugby player Gavin Henson and the son of serial killer Harold Shipman were also on the list of people given settlements.

Mr Justice Vos oversaw series of claims against News International's subsidiary company News Group Newspapers, which was the publisher of the News of the World.

During similar proceedings in December it was said that more than 60 people had taken action following a breach of confidence and misuse of private information.

This is part of ongoing court action over alleged phone hacking, which sparked the Leveson enquiry into the conduct of newspaper employees.

Successful claims have been made by actor Jude Law, his personal assistant Ben Jackson and his ex-wife Sadie Frost. Mark Oaten, son of Hertfordshire County councillor Audrey Oaten also claimed.

Before becoming MP for Watford, Claire Ward was the mayor of Elstree and Borehamwood Town Council in 1996. She was the second youngest MP when elected in 1997, and sat on the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

After re-election in 2005, Ms Ward was promoted to a Whip, and a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury.

In 2008 she was made Vice-Chamberlain of the Household, and then replaced Shahid Malik as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice.

Before losing her seat to Richard Harrington in 2010, she voted in favour of the smoking ban, the introduction of ID cards and the Iraq war.