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Hugh Grant: Non-Murdoch tabloid hacked me in 2007
Question of the Day
LONDON (AP) - Actor Hugh Grant told a London courtroom Monday about the dark side of celebrity life, describing mysterious break-ins, leaked medical details and hacked voice mails _ and laying blame on the entire tabloid press, not just the now-shuttered News of the World.
Grant’s testimony to a judge-led media ethics inquiry capped a tough day for Britain’s beleaguered press. Earlier, the parents of a murdered schoolgirl whose phone was targeted by the tabloid described how the hacking had given them false hope that their daughter was still alive.
The actor said a 2007 story about his romantic life in the paper, owned by Murdoch rival Associated Newspapers Ltd., could only have been obtained through eavesdropping on his voice mails.
He said he could not think of any other way the newspaper could have obtained the story alleging that his romance with Jemima Khan was on the rocks because of his conversations with a “plummy voiced” woman the paper identified as a film studio executive.
Grant said there was no such woman, but he did receive voice messages from the assistant of a movie producer friend.
“She would leave charming, joking messages … and she had a voice that can only be described as plummy,” he said.
Grant sued the newspaper for libel and won.
Challenged about whether he had hard evidence, Grant acknowledged he was speculating.
“But … I’d love to hear what the Daily Mail or the Sunday Mail’s explanation of what that source was if it wasn’t phone hacking,” he said.
The Mail on Sunday said in a statement said that it “utterly refutes” Grant’s suggestion it had hacked his phone and described his comments as “smears.”
Over two and a half hours of testimony, Grant _ by turns charming and censorious _ described years of tabloid pursuit that began after his breakthrough hit, “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” in 1994. Incidents included a mysterious break-in at his apartment during which nothing was stolen. Descriptions of the apartment later appeared in a tabloid newspaper.
He also said an article published earlier this year in The Sun and Daily Express about his visit to a hospital emergency room was “a gross intrusion of my privacy.”
“I think no one would expect their medical records to be made public or to be appropriated by newspapers for commercial profit,” he said. “That is fundamental to our British sense of decency.”
And he said paparazzi had hounded Tinglan Hong, the mother of Grant’s baby daughter, despite the actor’s efforts to keep his paternity secret. He said he did not attend the baby’s birth in late September, but the next day, “I couldn’t resist a quick visit.”
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