Actor and phone-hacking campaigner Hugh Grant claimed freelance paparazzi are being recruited from the criminal underworld and that one almost ran over the grandmother of his newborn baby.
Grant told the Leveson Inquiry this afternoon there were two kinds of press photographer: staff photographers who ‘just occasionally show a modicum of decency’and the ‘much worse’freelance paparazzi.
- June 22, 2017
- June 20, 2017
- June 9, 2017
According to Grant the latter are ‘increasingly recruited from criminal classes’and have criminal records – and will ‘stop at nothing and show no mercy and no ethics because the bounty on some of these pictures is so high”.
Last week the mother of Grant’s child, Tinlan Hong, was granted an injunction to prevent her being ‘hounded’by photographers camped outside her home who had made her life ‘unbearable”
Commenting on this new ‘criminal’breed of paparazzi, Grant told the Inquiry: ‘I suspect that the ones who, for instance, were chasing my girlfriend were those freelance types.
‘I suspect they were the ones who always try to take pictures up girls’ skirts and digitally remove their underwear because they can sell the picture for a little bit more if they do that.
‘I suspect they’re the ones who were following Princess Diana when she died and who the tabloid papers, particularly the Daily Mail, promised they would never buy pictures from again, but which they subsequently did about three months later.’
The story of Grant’s relationship with Hong was first picked up by the now defunct News of the World in April 2011 and when the paper closed, claimed Grant, the journalist responsible for the story moved to the Dail Mail.
He said that originally the story of the pregnancy had been the subject of interest from the NoW and ‘one journalist in particular”, adding: ‘When the NoW was closed down that journalist appears to have moved over to the Daily Mail, because a lot of this work and these calls came from that journalists now representing the Daily Mail”.
He said the paperhad ‘all the information’including the fake name under which Hong had checked into the hospital, and believed it had come from a leak at the hospital.
Yet the was story was eventually broken not by the Daily Mail but by an American magazine – and Grant was unable to explain how.
Asked why the Mail had held off publishing the story he replied: ‘They didn’t want to print the story based solely on their hospital source because that might have been unethical or possibly illegal.
‘So they needed a comment from my side and that is why I said nothing.’
And asked if it might have come from another source he responded: ‘Unless my cousin rang up the Daily Mail and told them, or [Hong’s] Chinese parents who speak no English did that, it’s very hard to draw any other conclusion.’
Grant also told the inquiry that the Daily Mail had paid £125,000 to Hong’s ex-lover to buy private pictures of her. Press Gazette understands the story was actually bought from an agency by the Mail on Sunday – not the Daily Mail – and a source said the paper paid only a “fraction of the amount” cited by Grant.
A spokesman for The Daily Mail said: ‘The Daily Mail unequivocally denies Hugh Grant’s allegation that it secured information about the birth of his child from a source at the hospital.
“In fact the information came from a source in his showbusiness circle more than two weeks AFTER the birth.
“We then spent a further two weeks seeking a response to the story from his publicists.
“None was forthcoming and indeed we did not publish anything until Grant’s publicist issued a statement describing the baby as the product of a ‘fleeting affair’.
“Throughout the Mail behaved with total journalistic propriety.”
‘Tell Hugh Grant to shut the fuck up’
The actor alleged that after his July 2011 appearance on BBC One’s Question Time, Hong received a call from a person saying, “Tell Hugh Grant to shut the fuck up”, but that they didn’t take action because she felt there would be a police leak to the press which would ‘bring down the press storm’on her head.
He said that the incident that culminated in them taking out an injunction came on 10 November when Hong’s mother was allegedly almost run over by a photographer.
‘The house where the mother of my child and my child were besieged was surrounded by these paparazzi, and I asked my lawyer what could possibly be done,’said Grant.
The lawyer said that if they could get pictures of the paparazzi it could increase the likelihood of them being ‘called off”
‘The 63-year-old grandmother of the child went out into the street and took a picture of a man sitting in a car with a great big camera.”
The photographer ‘wound the window down and shouted a lot of abuse at her and then as she crossed the road he menaced her with his car’he claimed.
‘He drove at her very fast and made her jump out of the way, and at the end of the road he did a u-turn, came back and menaced her again with his car.’
He claimed police are visiting Hong to discuss the incident on Wednesday.