Hugh Grant put a charming face on a rather ugly situation Monday, testifying to claims that various British tabloids hacked into his phone and invaded his privacy in other ways.
At the Leveson Inquiry on phone hacking, Grant said the Mail on Sunday hacked into his voicemails for a false report that he and his former girlfriend, Jemima Khan, were fighting because he was chatting flirtatiously with a “plummy-voiced studio executive from Warner Brothers.”
Grant said he believed the Mail on Sunday was referring to a friend in Los Angeles “with a voice that could only be described as plummy.” He did not present evidence to support this claim, but said, “I cannot for the life of me think of any conceivable source for this story ... except those voice messages on my mobile telephone.”
The “Four Weddings and a Funeral” actor also accused the Daily Mail of obtaining information about the birth of his child with actress Tinglan Hong through “unethical or possibly illegal” means. He claimed the tabloid paper offered Hong’s ex-lover six figures for private photos.
Grant, who has put his famous name behind the crusade against tabloid culture, managed to inject moments of levity into his testimony. When discussing how he drafted a statement about the birth of his child, who was conceived through a “fleeting affair,” from a film set in Germany, Grant joked, “It was not ideal circumstances. I was dressed as a cannibal at the time.”
He also gave a nod to his reputation as a cad when rejecting the idea that he makes a living off his good name therefore his private life is fair game: “I wasn’t aware I traded on my good name. I’ve never had a good name. And it’s made absolutely no difference at all. I’m the man who was arrested with a prostitute, and the film still made tons of money. It doesn’t .... matter.”
The Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail, both owned by Associated Newspapers, strongly denied Grant’s claims. The Mail on Sunday said his “allegations are mendacious smears driven by his hatred of the media.”
David Sherborne, a lawyer representing Grant and other alleged victims, fired back at the paper’s statement: “It's the intimidatory nature of it which in my submission is something this inquiry needs to take very seriously.”
“The Trip” actor Steve Coogan also testified Tuesday, claiming reporters had looked through his garbage bins, the BBC reported. Sienna Miller, J.K. Rowling and singer Charlotte Church will also testify at the inquiry, the Post’s Karla Adam reported.