A High Court judge gave his reasons today for granting an injunction to the mother of actor Hugh Grant’s baby daughter to prevent her being hounded by paparazzi.
Mr Justice Tugendhat, sitting in London, granted the injunction to Chinese actress Tinglan Hong and her child last Friday.
The order was against XYZ and others as the “person or persons responsible for taking photographs of the claimants outside their home and in the street during November 2011”.
He said Hong “states that since the birth of her child her life has become unbearable”. The judge added: “She cannot leave her home without being followed and there are constantly photographers waiting outside her home.”
Tugendhat said he granted an injunction against the defendants “prohibiting harassment” of the claimants – mother and child.
He said the second claimant, the daughter, was referred to in the judgment as KLM, because “she has not yet been formally named” and not for the purpose of keeping her identity private.
The defendants were referred to as XYZ because their “identities are unknown”. The judge said: “The second claimant is the daughter of the first claimant and of the actor Hugh Grant.
“While Hugh Grant is very well known, the first claimant has never sought any publicity or been known to the public for any reason.
“She and Hugh Grant did their best to keep private the fact that the second claimant was their child and do not know how the information reached the public domain.”
Tugendhat said that in the News of the World on 8 April a front page article was published entitled “Hugh’s Secret Girl”.
He added: “It was illustrated by photographs which the first claimant recognised as having been taken as long ago as January 2011. At that time she had no idea that she was being followed and being photographed without her knowledge.
“It is also illustrated by another photograph taken in April 2011 on an occasion when she was aware that she was being photographed, but to which she had not consented.
“The article speculated on whether she was pregnant, as in fact she was, albeit in the very early stages.”
Tugendhat said: “In July 2011 Hugh Grant appeared on the programme Question Time. He talked about the phone hacking scandal. That evening the first claimant started to receive telephone calls on her mobile and land lines from callers who withheld their numbers.
“After first ignoring such calls she did answer one. The person calling said ‘Tell Hugh Grant to shut the f*** up’.”
The judge said she was “terrified” and “had no idea how anyone had had her telephone number”. He added: “At that time she was seven months pregnant, living at home with just her mother.
“She has since changed her mobile phone number because of calls and text messages she has received from journalists. Since April 2011 she has been followed regularly and photographed without her consent.
“She has found this distressing at a time when she was pregnant.”
The judge said Hong “has not been able to take her daughter outside. On November 10 she did take her daughter out to the doctor. She had to cover the child with a blanket.
“On their way back visiting the doctor they were followed. She had to call her mother for assistance in returning to the house.”
Hong was “unable to look after her daughter in a normal way”, said the judge. “She has had to cancel appointments, including ones for her child. She is frightened to drive with her child because the distraction makes it unsafe.”
On 3 November, through her solicitor Mark Thomson, she complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). The judge said: “The solicitor Mr Thomson has made a witness statement. He is also instructed by Hugh Grant.
“Mr Thomson states that on Friday April 22 he attended a meeting with Hugh Grant and two police officers from Operation Weeting.
“The police showed evidence that Hugh Grant’s telephone messages had been intercepted by persons acting on behalf of the News of the World between 2004 and 2006.”
He said: “When he (Mr Grant) attended the home of the first claimant on November 3, as he has informed Mr Thomson, he asked the photographers if there was anything he could do or say to make them leave a new and frightened young mother in peace.
“They said ‘show us the baby’. He refused. He asked if they thought it was acceptable for grown men to be harassing and frightening a mother and baby for commercial profit. They shrugged and took more pictures.”
The judge said that following the complaint to the PCC it circulated a warning to editors on the same day.
Tugendhat said he was satisfied that it was “necessary and proportionate to grant the injunction sought”.