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Church said phone numbers for her American publicist and agent were found in private detective Glenn Mulcaire’s notes, which could be significant because Mulcaire was jailed after having been found to have hacked into the phones of some people mentioned in his handwritten notes.

She believes her agent and publicist may have been hacked as well, indicating that crimes may have been committed in the United States, not just Britain, raising the legal peril for Murdoch, whose company is headquartered in New York.

“That shows how large their web is,” said Church.

Church was just 11 when she shot to fame with her uncanny mastery of classical standards. The intensity of tabloid scrutiny picked up pace in her mid-teenage years _ when she branched out into pop music _ as her romantic life, nights out on the town and even her cigarette smoking sparked racy front-page stories.

The pressure has eased in the last few years as Church has stayed out of the public eye while raising her two young children.

She lives in a spacious house with attractive grounds _ and neighbors who protect her privacy. The living room is filled with teddy bears and has a casual, lived-in look, but a home-office on top of the garage has been turned into a “war room” for her legal battle with the Murdoch empire.

Church believes the tabloids have done lasting damage to her career. Her voice is intact; she believes her reputation is not.

“I realize now their power, their absolute power,” she said. “People really believe the things that are written, and a lot of the things they wrote weren’t me at all, not the things I was saying, not my viewpoints, and I just realized they were shaping how people viewed me. I became a cartoon character, a soap opera character. It was constant, every day, from 16 to 21. There was always someone outside my house, following me.”

Church said she cut off many of her close childhood friends because she thought they were selling stories about her to the press _ only to find out last summer that the tabloids had been getting the information from her voicemails.

She’s apologized to her girl friends, but in some cases the damage could not be undone.

“They were really angry, I’ve had to go around to them and say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m really sorry that I thought that of you but it was a really confusing time and we didn’t know the broader picture.’ I thought, I just have to limit the people I’m in daily contact with.”

Her advice to any young, attractive singers likely to draw newspaper attention?

“Be careful, be very careful,” she said. “It’s dangerous.”