News International, the British arm of News Corp that includes the now-defunct News of the World, is close to settling many of the high-profile phone-hacking cases brought against it, lawyers for the victims said on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for News International declined to comment before Thursday's pre-trial hearing in front of a judge who is set to begin hearing test cases next month. Many of the settlements are expected to be announced, subject to the approval of the judge, Geoffrey Vos. Gerald Shamash, a lawyer who is representing five high-profile victims including retired footballer Paul Gascoigne, said all of his claims were being settled, although the deals would probably not be announced as early as Thursday. "We are in the process of settling them," he said. Shamash's other clients with claims against News International are former spin doctor Alastair Campbell, football agent Phil Hughes, whose clients included George Best, former Labour minister Elliot Morley and Jimmy Gardner, a friend of Gascoigne's. News International launched a compensation scheme in November for victims of phone hacking, promising to pay 10% more than the amount considered appropriate by Charles Gray, a former high court judge overseeing the scheme. It is facing more than 60 claims but the number of possible victims is almost 6,000, according to police. Much of the sting has been taken out of the civil cases by the Leveson inquiry into press ethics and standards, which has already spent months poring over the conduct of the British press in detail.