Actor Hugh Grant today suggested that Associated Newspaper’s Mail on Sunday may have hacked his phone in 2007.
Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into phone-hacking and press standards, Grant said that he could not think of “any conceivable source” for a story that appeared in the MoS about his relationship with Jemima Khan except for voice messages left on his telephone being intercepted.
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Grant estimated that since his film Four Wedding and a Funeral was released in 1994 he had won between 10 and 12 libel cases against the press.
This afternoon he gave the details of two of the most ‘significant’cases, including the Mail on Sunday article from February 2007 for which he later received a damages.
According to Grant, it alleged his then relationship with Jemima Khan was on the rocks ‘because of my persistent late-night flirtatious phone calls with a plummy-voiced studio executive from Warner Brothers.
‘It was a bizarre story, completely untrue,’said Grant.
He added: ‘Thinking about how they could possibly come up with such a bizarre, leftfield story I realised that although there was no plummy-voiced studio executive from Warner Brothers with whom I’d had any kind of relationship – flirtatious or otherwise – there was a great friend of mind in Los Angeles who runs a production company which is associated with Warner Brothers and whose assistant is a charming, married, middle-aged lady, English.”
Grant said the assistant used to call on behalf of the executive and leave messages on his voicemail.
‘Because she was a nice English girl living in Los Angeles, sometimes when we spoke we’d have a joke about English stuff, Marmite or whatever, and so she would leave charming, jokey messages saying please call this studio exec back,” he said. ‘And she has a voice that could only be described as plummy.”
Grant said that he could not “for the life of me think of any conceivable source for this story in the Mail on Sunday except those voice messages on my mobile telephone”.
He said that he was looking through press cuttings before today’s appearance when he came across the MoS article and ‘the penny dropped”.
Grant also referred to a piece in the Sunday Express which claimed to have been written by him, but which he insisted had not been, instead claiming that ‘it was completely either made up or patched and pasted from previous quotes I might have given in interviews”.
The actor also claimed that in 1995, after he was caught with the prostitute Divine Brown, his London flat was broken into – and that he suspects a UK newspaper could be responsible.
The incident occurred ‘at the zenith of the press storm around that arrest in Los Angeles’and Grant said he found it ‘weird’because nothing was stolen.
The police came the next day to discuss the break in, but Grant claimed that the day after ‘a detailed account of what the interior of my flat looked like appeared in one of the British tabloid newspapers. I can’t remember which one at the moment.
‘I remember thinking: ‘Who told them that? Was that the burgular? Or was that the police?”
Grant said that when he retold the story to phone-hacking campaigner Tom Watson, the Labour MP ‘nodded knowingly’and said he had come across that “particular style of break in” with other victims of press intrusion.