By Georgina Prodhan and Kate Holton
LONDON (Reuters) - Lawyers for victims of the phone hacking scandal at the British newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp media empire say the company has acknowledged covering up the scale of illegal activity by destroying evidence and lying to investigators.
In a statement that could further damage the company's reputation, lawyers for victims who have reached a settlement said the agreement was based on News Group Newspapers acknowledging senior executives tried to hide evidence.
"News Group has agreed to compensation being assessed on the basis that senior employees and directors of NGN knew about the wrongdoing and sought to conceal it by deliberately deceiving investigators and destroying evidence," the statement said.
The lawyers issued the statement on Thursday as they prepared to tell a judge in a London court that many of the most high-profile victims - who include sports stars, actors and politicians, were ready to settle their claims.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan and Kate Holton; Editing by Peter Graff)