Hugh Grant said his phone was hacked by the Daily Mail & General Trust Plc (DMGT)’s Mail on Sunday, the second time an inquiry on U.K. media practices heard that phone hacking may have gone beyond News Corp.’s News of the World.
Grant, who starred in the comedy “Notting Hill,” told the inquiry his messages were hacked for a 2007 story that claimed he received late night calls from a “plummy voiced studio executive.” He also complained journalists broke into his apartment and printed information about his medical treatment.
“I cannot for the life of me think of any source for these stories in the Mail on Sunday except my voicemail messages,” Grant said. “I would like to hear what the source was if it wasn’t phone-hacking.”
The actor may have been a victim of Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective for the News of the World, who hacked thousands of phones before his arrest in 2006. The revelation that News of the World hacked a murdered schoolgirl’s phone led to the paper being closed, the resignation of executives Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton, and to Prime Minister David Cameron setting up the media inquiry under Judge Brian Leveson.
Last week, a lawyer for the inquiry said Trinity Mirror Plc (TNI)’s Daily Mirror was listed in Mulcaire’s notebooks seized by police.
The Mail on Sunday said in a statement that it “utterly refutes Grant’s claim that they got any story as a result of phone hacking.” It said the information in the story came from a freelance journalist who spoke to a source close to Grant’s then girlfriend, Jemima Khan.
“Mr. Grant’s allegations are mendacious smears driven by his hatred of the media,” the publication said.
DMGT Chief Executive Officer Martin Morgan said last week that the Daily Mail carried out an editorial review that determined there were no policies that could have caused systematic hacking in its newsroom.
Trinity Mirror spokesman Rich Ellis said last week the company has no knowledge of using Mulcaire.
Grant said today that it’s “unlikely they only practiced the dark arts on one title.”
“There has been a section of our press that has been allowed to become toxic over the last 20 or 30 years,” he said. “Its main tactic is bullying, coercion and blackmail.”
‘Heard Her Voice’
Earlier today the inquest heard from the mother of Milly Dowler, the school girl who was murdered in 2002. Sally Dowler told the inquest that voicemails deleted by Mulcaire gave her hope that her daughter was still alive.
“I heard her voice,” Sally Dowler said. “I jumped. ‘She’s picked up her voice mails Bob! She’s alive!’ I told my friends, ‘She’s picked up her voice mail, she’s picked up her voice mail.’”
Grant said that since he became a star in the 1994 film “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” press interest in his private life had been intense. He raised his 1995 arrest in Los Angeles with a prostitute, saying he had never complained about the coverage and he “totally expected there to be a public storm.”
He said around 1995 his apartment had been broken into.
“The front door had been shoved off the hinges,” he said. “Nothing was stolen, which was weird.” The next day a detailed “account of what the interior of my flat looked like appeared in the papers.”
He said he didn’t know whether that account had come from the burglar or the police. “The most likely scenario was both.”
Grant said in his experience, if he called the police about something, “the chances are a reporter or a photographer would turn up on your doorstep before a policeman.”
He accused the Trinity Mirror’s Sunday Mirror, News Corp.’s Sun, and Northern & Shell’s Express of running stories about his medical treatment.
“Maybe it was just a lucky guess,” he snapped back when challenged that he couldn’t show papers had broken the law to obtain such information. “I suspect it was the age-old story of someone at that hospital being on a retainer.”
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