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Coogan Says He Speaks for Celebrities Scared of Tabloid Press

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Actor Steve Coogan told an inquiry into British media practices that he and Hugh Grant, who testified yesterday, speak for celebrities who are afraid of the press.

“They fear what may happen,” Coogan, who starred alongside Jackie Chan in the 2004 film “Around The World In 80 Days,” told judge Brian Leveson’s review of the press. “We’re here because somebody has to represent all those other people who haven’t the stomach to be here.”

The inquiry was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of the revelation that the News Corp.’s News of the World newspaper had hacked a murdered schoolgirl’s mobile phone. Cameron faces questions about his decision to hire a former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, as his media adviser. Coulson quit that post in January and has been arrested as part of a police probe into phone hacking.

Coogan accused Coulson, in his time as a tabloid editor, of trying to entrap him into talking about an affair, and on another occasion of breaking a promise not to report unpleasant details of a relationship if he confirmed other facts.

“My publicist said to me ‘do you really want to make enemies of these people?’” Coogan said. “My closet’s empty of skeletons” as a result of stories about his private life.

He also accused reporters of having gone through his garbage. “I saw them from my bedroom window,” he said. “They didn’t look like tramps. Well, not far off.”

Grant yesterday accused the Daily Mail & General Trust Plc’s Mail on Sunday of hacking his phone. The paper denied the allegations.

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net; or Thomas Penny in London at tpenny@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net.

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