Hugh Grant Among 30 Suing Trinity Mirror Over Celebrity Hacking

Actor Hugh Grant, one of the fiercest critics of phone hacking at a News Corp. tabloid, is among more than 30 celebrities suing Trinity Mirror Plc newspapers over similar practices.

Designer Kelly Hoppen and actor Rhys Ifans were among other people who filed the suits last week in London, according to court filings. The cases come as a London judge is looking at eight civil suits that will determine the amount of damages the company owes for phone hacking at three Trinity Mirror publications.

The first glimpse of the potential scale of phone hacking that went on at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People titles has been revealed in the civil trial with allegations by lawyers that the practice was “rife.” The scandal over voice-mail interception was triggered about four years ago at News Corp.’s now defunct News of the World tabloid.

“Trinity Mirror Group has always underestimated the scale of the illegality, the number of people affected, the liability they are facing and the damage to their reputation,” Evan Harris, associate director at the public-interest group Hacked Off, said in an e-mailed statement.

More suits could be filed against Trinity Mirror in the coming weeks, James Heath, a lawyer for victims said.

“I am not in a position to estimate the total number of claims that will be brought in relation to phone hacking and other ’dark arts’ carried out by Trinity Mirror’s national newspapers over the years, but it does seem that there will be a sizable number,” Heath said in an e-mailed statement.

A spokesman for London-based Trinity Mirror declined to immediately comment. The publisher apologized to victims of phone hacking in February and has set aside 12 million pounds ($18.1 million) to resolve claims.

The 54-year-old Grant, who settled a civil claim against News Corp., secretly taped a former News of the World journalist talking about phone hacking months before the height of the scandal. Grant, who starred in the comedy “Notting Hill,” told a judicial inquiry into press ethics in 2011 that the practice was probably used by other publications.

The case is Hugh Grant v. MGN Ltd., HC-2015-000916, High Court of Justice Chancery Division.

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