NEWS – “without comment”

Posted b: Ian (D. Withers)

Hugh Grant tells court that The Sun used ‘burglaries to order’ and ‘bugging’ to obtain private information

“The British actor is suing News Group Newspaper (NGN) – the publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World – over allegations of unlawful information gathering”.

            Sky News –

27 April 2023

The Sun newspaper used “burglaries to order” and “breaking and entering” to obtain private information through “bugging, landline tapping and phone hacking”, Hugh Grant has claimed in court.

The 62-year-old actor made the allegations in a witness statement read out as part of his lawsuit against News Group Newspapers (NGN) – the publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World.

The British star attended the final day of a hearing at London’s High Court where NGN is bringing a bid to have claims by him and Prince Harry thrown out.

The Duke of Sussex, 38, is suing NGN over alleged unlawful information gathering at the two titles.

Grant settled a claim against NGN relating to unlawful information gathering at the News Of The World in 2012 and is now bringing a similar legal action in relation to The Sun.

NGN closed the News Of The World in 2011 in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal – but has denied any unlawful activity took place at The Sun.

In a witness statement, the Love Actually star said: “My claim concerns unlawful acts committed by The Sun, including burglaries to order, the breaking and entering of private property in order to obtain private information through bugging, landline tapping, phone hacking, and the use of private investigators to do all these and other illegal things against me.”

He referred in the statement to evidence he gave at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards and ethics in 2011, in which he spoke about a break-in at his London flat.

Grant claimed the front door was forced off its hinges and a story appeared shortly afterwards in The Sun that “detailed the interior”.

He said: “I had no evidence that this burglary was carried out or commissioned on the instruction of the press, let alone The Sun.”

The actor added that he had been told by a private investigator in early 2022 and had been shown “for the first time, evidence that The Sun had targeted unlawful activity at me and my associates directly”, which prompted him to launch his claim.

He said the information included private investigator invoices and payments, and that they included the period during which the Leveson Inquiry into press standards and ethics was taking place.

Grant said in the statement: “It was particularly shocking to learn that me and my associates, including members of my family who were not in any way in the public eye, had been targeted by The Sun during the Leveson Inquiry.

“I found it astonishing that The Sun carried out these unlawful acts against me at a time when I was preparing to give evidence to a public inquiry on press ethics.”

He added: “I have been shocked by what I have unearthed, without any help at all from the defendant, about unlawful acts committed by The Sun against me.

“The defendant clearly considers itself above the law and is using the law now in a way I believe it was never intended, that is to further cover up and conceal what it has done.

“I strongly believe that cannot be allowed to happen and that what it has done must be brought to light.”

NGN’s lawyers argue Grant, a prominent campaigner on press ethics as a member of the Hacked Off group, should have been aware he had a claim in relation to The Sun much earlier and had left it too late to bring the latest legal action.

NGN has previously settled a number of claims since the phone-hacking scandal broke in relation to The News Of The World.

Anthony Hudson KC, for NGN, told the court on Tuesday that Prince Harry and Grant had been “front and centre” of claims against the publisher over hacking and therefore could not possibly have failed to realise they had a potential damages claim much sooner.

The hearing is expected to conclude on Thursday and Mr Justice Fancourt will determine whether their claims will progress to a trial, which is due to be heard in January next year.

The judge is expected to give his ruling at a later date.