The New Statesman today highlights Hugh Grant’s 10 myths of tabloid journalism, based on the actor’s testimony in the Leveson phone-hacking inquiry across the pond. Grant addressed the oft-circulated tab cop-out that it’s fair to probe his personal life and that of others because there’s a ”public-interest” component to such digging. And that public-interest defense is that, hey, people such as Grant make a living off of their reputation as clean, upstanding people. Therefore, it’s fair game to pry into whether they really are.

Here’s Grant’s comeback to that, via the New Statesman:

Myth 8: That most sex exposes carry a public interest defence.

Grant rejected claims that celebrities such as himself . . . trade on their reputations as “family men”. In one of the most memorable passages of the session, he quipped:

“I wasn’t aware I was trading on my good name, I’ve never had a good name at all. I’m a man who was arrested with a prostitute and the film still made loads of money. It doesn’t matter.”

The history of invasive journalism in the U.K. features multiple cameo appearances by the “public-interest defence,” as they spell it over there. It is the most malleable, accommodating invitation to sleaze that you could ever ask for, much to the eternal delight of unscrupulous tab editors. Just remember the case of Max Mosley.