The News of the World hacking scandal finally erupted this month after rumbling for years among England’s elite. Celebrities complained bitterly about the invasion of privacy, but the public couldn’t muster much sympathy: Price of fame, blah blah blah.
Stars are used to seeing their private lives splashed in the papers — but listening to private cellphone messages clearly hit a nerve. How much does hacking account for? A primer on what has happened to which VIPs:
Hugh Grant: Currently leading the crusade against celebrity hacking. He says he was baffled when paparazzi would pop up in unexpected venues, until he learned the extent of the problem from a former tabloid editor. “Although a lot of my stuff comes from personal grievance, I also am properly outraged for my country,” he told reporters.
Prince William: Reporters discovered that the prince had injured his knee — an accident known to only a few of his inner circle — and apparently tapped Prince Harry’s phone to intercept a message from Wills about a strip club visit.
Jude Law and Sienna Miller: The actress claims the News published details of their romance from hacked messages: travel plans, discussions about having children, lovers’ spats, and their affairs with other people; the actor says the paper followed him to NYC and used voice mails to reveal his hotel room number and food orders. Miller sued News of the World and settled in May for $164,500 and a formal apology. Last week, Law sued the Sun, another of Rupert Murdoch’s papers.
Jemima Khan: The London socialite read about her fight with then-boyfriend Grant in the tabs, she wrote in the Independent this month. “It wasn’t quite as described in the paper but it had definitely happened and I think it may even have earned me the nickname Genghis.”
Also, pop star George Michael and actor/comedian Steve Coogan have been hacked, as was Elle Macpherson — and her former publicist, Mary Ellen Field, who said she got fired because the supermodel assumed she had leaked stories. Recent days have brought a flood of new names as police have reached out to the hundreds of people they think may have been hacked. David Beckham and Heather Mills are both said to be considering lawsuits. But stars may have a hard time proving which tabloid stories came from their voice mails, as opposed to from other sordid sources — so gossip, for the time being, will probably survive.