Sienna Miller, the British actress whose phone-hacking lawsuit against News Corp. helped trigger the demise of the News of the World tabloid, said she wrongfully accused friends and family of leaking information to the press.
Miller suspected someone close to her was talking to journalists because the newspaper had information that only they knew, she said at a judge-led inquiry into the British press in London today. Only later did Miller discover phone hacking was the source of the stories, she said.
“I feel terrible that I would even consider accusing people of betraying me like that,” said Miller, whose relationship with actor Jude Law drew press interest. “My paranoia and suspicion naturally spread to those around me.”
Miller, who accepted 100,000 pounds ($155,050) from News Corp. (NWSA) in June to end the lawsuit, says she might have also had her e-mail hacked. The Metropolitan Police, which were ordered to disclose phone-hacking evidence in Miller’s case, arrested an unnamed 52-year-old man today in Milton Keynes as part of their probe of computer hacking by the British press.
News Corp. closed the News of the World in July to help contain the five-year-old scandal after it was revealed the tabloid had hacked the phone of a murdered school girl in 2002, when she was still missing. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called for the inquiry, led by Judge Brian Leveson, to scrutinize the relationship between the press and the public and determine if new regulations are needed.
Miller also said she feared for her safety as a result of photographers pursuing cars in which she was riding or chasing her on foot down dark streets. Photographers often showed up at locations after she discussed meeting someone on the phone, causing her to suspect hacking, she said.
“I felt like I was living in some sort of video game” with “people kind of pre-empting every move I made as a result of accessing my private information,” Miller said.
Leveson also heard from Max Mosley, the former Formula One President, who won a 60,000-pound breach-of-privacy award from Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World in 2008 for publishing a story on a Nazi-themed “orgy,” along with a video, without contacting him. A judge ruled there was no Nazi theme and the story wasn’t in the public interest.
“The problem is, if you breach privacy merely because you disapprove of what someone was doing or it was not to your taste, well, we would be all over the place because sexual behavior covers a huge variety of things,” Mosley said. “Where would it stop?”
Mosley said Rupert Murdoch ignored a letter he sent in 2008 to complain about the tabloid’s chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck.
“I got no reply,” Mosley said. I wouldn’t expect that response “from a serious media company” whose reporter was accused of an offense.
J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter author, told Leveson that newspaper photographers had stalked her during two of her pregnancies, as well as each time she published new books, while reporters made up details of stories. The newspaper companies would sometimes increase their coverage of her after she complained, she said.
“If you lock horns with them in this way, if you protest or make a complaint, then you can expect some form of retribution fairly quickly,” Rowling said. The behavior is “spiteful,” she said. The author said a new word should be invented for tabloid journalists to differentiate them from reporters who risk their lives to cover wars and famine.
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