Afternoon Hearing on 21 November 2011

Hugh Grant gave a statement at this hearing

Hearing Transcript

(2.00 pm) MR JAY Sir, the next witness is Mr Hugh Grant, please. MR HUGH JOHN MUNGO GRANT (affirmed) Questions from by MR JAY MR JAY Mr Grant, your full name, please?
A. Hugh John Mungo Grant.
Q. Mr Grant, we've prepared a bundle for you and you'll find, please, under tab 1, your first witness statement, which is dated and signed by you with a statement of truth on 3 November of this year. I invite you to take that to hand, please, and confirm that that is your first statement.
A. It is.
Q. Then you gave a second statement, a supplementary witness statement, on 11 November, and again made a statement of truth.
A. Yes.
Q. What I'm going to do, Mr Grant LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Before you do anything MR JAY Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Grant, as with some of the other witnesses, I'm very grateful to you for coming. I am extremely conscious that you are speaking about matters which you would prefer were not deployed in the press, and that that is a difficult decision and a difficult experience for you. I'm conscious of it and I'm grateful to you for assisting the Inquiry with your evidence. During the course of the afternoon, we're likely to have a break, but if at any stage you feel that you want just a few minutes off, you don't have to say "cut", it's sufficient if you indicate it and I'll be pleased
A. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON to accord you that time.
A. Thank you very much. MR JAY We're not time limited, Mr Grant. We have the whole afternoon.
A. I'm sorry to hear that.
Q. Your evidence subdivides, if I may say so, into evidence of fact and evidence of opinion. I'd like to start, please, with the evidence of fact, do you follow me, before we move on to the opinions.
A. Yes.
Q. In relation to your career, everybody, of course, probably knows all about your career, but you made it big, if I can so describe it, with a film in 1994, "Four Weddings and a Funeral", but although you don't say so yourself, you did rather well, I think, with another film which some of us enjoyed in 1987 called "Maurice", so it wasn't as if it's a one-off. You career then took off thereafter. You say in your statement that following the success of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" in 1994, initially the press comment was favourable and then it plummeted. Can you tell us a bit about the favourable part, the good part, if we can so describe it, in your own words, please?
A. Well, it was fairly brief, but of course on the back of that success of "Four Weddings and a Funeral", yes, there was a spirit of goodwill. I think the nation liked having a film that was making that was popular and funny and doing very well all over the world. You know, we enjoy the few British cinema successes we get and I got a little blip of positive press on the back of that, yes.
Q. At that stage, was there any interest in your private life, do you think?
A. There was a great deal of interest suddenly in my private life.
Q. Yes?
A. Particularly beginning at the premiere of that film, when the press became very interested in me and my girlfriend.
Q. Yes. Okay, I think we probably remember that premiere.
A. Yes.
Q. Can I move on to perhaps the darker side. This is paragraph 7 of your witness statement.
A. Yes.
Q. I'm not going to cover the events of July 1995. We're not interested in that.
A. I wish you would, in a way, simply because am I allowed to break in on you?
Q. Of course, yes.
A. Just because I think it's an important point that I make in this statement, that all the questioning and campaigning I've done recently about what I see as the abuses of some sections of the British press is emphatically not motivated by the treatment I got when I was arrested in 1995. I say in my statement here I was arrested, it was on public record, I totally expected there to be tons of press, a press storm. That happened, and I have no quarrel with it, none whatsoever. I just thought it's important to make that point.
Q. Fair enough. There was an incident involving a break-in to your London flat on the fourth floor?
A. Yes.
Q. The front door was forced off its hinges. It sounds as if it was professionally done. There was no damage inside the flat; is that correct?
A. No damage and nothing was stolen.
Q. Yes.
A. This came at the zenith of the sort of press storm around that arrest in Los Angeles. I was now back in London, holed up in my flat, and I'd managed to get out for the day, or the night I can't remember. Anyway, when I came back, this flat had been broken into. The front door had been basically just shoved off its hinges. As I say, nothing was stolen, which was weird, and the police nevertheless came around the next day to talk about it, and the day after that a detailed account of what the interior of my flat looked like appeared in one of the British tabloid papers. I can't remember which one at the moment, but it was definitely there, and I remember thinking: who told them that? Was that the burglar or was that the police? And when I told this story to Tom Watson recently, the MP who was writing a book about this kind of thing, he nodded knowingly, saying, "Oh yes, that particular method of break-in I've come across with several other people who are victims of a lot of in the crosshairs of a lot of the press attention, and it doesn't seem to have been a singular occasion." And you know, it seemed doubly sinister to me because that flat, as you said, is you have to walk up a hell of a lot of stairs to get there. I think it was a very bad choice for a normal burglar, and nothing was stolen, and I've had it for 25 years and it's never been broken into before or since.
Q. In terms of the logical possibilities, I suppose it's either, in no particular order, a leak from the police or it might be the burglar was acting on the instructions of the press to gain sight of the inside of your flat. We don't know which hypothesis is the correct one.
A. Well, or both.
Q. Or both.
A. I think the most likely scenario is both. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Or, alternatively, a burglar who has found whose flat he's burgled and decided there's some way he can make some money. Whatever. I'm not
A. Fine. Fine. But they were very you know, this was at a time when there was a lot of press outside all the time, desperate to get in. It was the middle of the summer and I know they were listening. You know, it was right up, four floors up and they could actually hear one or two of the rows I was having at the time, so I know they were desperate to get some kind of access. MR JAY At paragraph 8 and following you deal with various libel actions, all of which were successful. Can you assist us, please, with a general idea of how many libel claims we're talking about?
A. I don't know. It's been 16, 17 years since "Four Weddings", since I became of any kind of interest to the tabloid press, and I would imagine that in those 17 years that, I don't know, half a dozen, maybe more, maybe 10. I've got my lawyer's over there. You could ask him. He'd know.
Q. Yes.
A. I just mention two here out of those because it would be very boring to go through them all, and in themselves they're not significant, but these two particular examples I think are significant.
Q. Yes. The example you give in paragraph 11, February 2007
A. Yeah.
Q. the plummy-voiced woman issue.
A. Mm.
Q. Are you suggesting there that the story must have come from phone hacking?
A. Well, what I say in this paragraph is that the Mail on Sunday ran an article in February 2007 saying that my relationship with my then girlfriend, Jemima Khan, was on the rocks because of my persistent late-night flirtatious phonecalls with a plummy-voiced studio executive from Warner Brothers, and it was a bizarre story, completely untrue, that I sued for libel over and won and damages were awarded, a statement was made in open court. But thinking about how they could possibly come up with such a bizarre left-field story, I realised that although there was no plummy-voiced studio executive from Warner Brothers with whom I'd had any kind of relationship, flirtatious or otherwise, there was a great friend of mine in Los Angeles who runs a production company which is associated with Warner Brothers and whose assistant is a charming married middle-aged lady, English, who, as happens in Hollywood, is the person who rings you. The executive never rings you. It's always their assistant: "Hi, we have Jack Bealy(?) on the phone for you." And this is what she used to do. She used to call and she used to leave messages and because she was a nice English girl in LA, sometimes when we spoke, we'd have a chat about English stuff, Marmite or whatever. So she would leave charming, jokey messages saying, "Please call this studio executive back", and she has a voice that could only be described as plummy. So I cannot for the life of me think of any conceivable source for this story in the Mail on Sunday except those voice messages on my mobile telephone.
Q. You haven't alleged that before, have you, in the public domain?
A. No, but when I was preparing this statement and going through all my old trials and tribulations with the press, I looked at that one again and thought that is weird, and then the penny dropped.
Q. I think the highest it can be put is, frankly, it's a piece of speculation on your part, isn't it, in relation to this?
A. Yes, you could yes, speculation, okay, but I would love to know I mean, I think Mr Caplan, who represents Associated, was saying earlier today that he'd like to put in a supplementary statement and you know, referring to the things I say today. Well, I'd love to hear what the Daily Mail's or the Sunday Mail's explanation for that article is, what that source was, if it wasn't phone hacking.
Q. Okay. I may come back to that, but I'll leave that for the time being. The next article you refer to is in paragraph 12 of your statement, which is one in the Sunday Express. The point about this article and we have it in HG1 on the internal numbering at page 3 but on the numbering at the bottom right-hand side, a number ending 1921 is that this article was entirely untrue.
A. Yes, it's an article that purported to be written by me and which I hadn't written. Nor had I done that thing that, you know, happens a lot in papers, where it's someone talking to someone. I had not even spoken to a journalist. It was completely, as far as I could see, either made up or patched and pasted from previous quotations I might have given in interview.
Q. Right.
A. That is why, as I recall, the Express lost their case and had to apologise.
Q. This statement in open court makes precisely that point, that you did not contribute to the article in any way and the Express admitted that.
A. Mm.
Q. Those are the two examples of defamation claims. You also provide examples of privacy claims.
A. Mm.
Q. The first one of these over which there was litigation was paragraph 13 of your witness statement, a visit to Charing Cross Hospital.
A. Yes.
Q. Details of which it's probably unnecessary to go into, but it did culminate in a claim against the Mirror for breach of confidence and you got judgment from Mr Justice Wright; that's correct, isn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. You also complained to the PCC and that claim was upheld, was it not?
A. Yes, finally, after a lot of effort. I mean, it took months and months. They were very reluctant to do anything. Finally, I got a tiny recognition that my complaint had been upheld deep in the newspaper.
Q. Right.
A. Without referring to what the complaint was about.
Q. Could I take that in stages? The PCC adjudication you will have in the bundle we have prepared for you, under tab 4.
A. Yes. This will take me hours.
Q. It won't.
A. Tab 4. Okay, I see, all right. Yes.
Q. They upheld the privacy complaint but they noted, you'll see in the second paragraph: "The complainant also raised a number of issues arising from the complaint, involving confidentiality and sources of information which were outside the Commission's remit." And then at the bottom: "The Commission regretted the delay." That was to do with resolving issues of jurisdiction. So rightly or wrongly I don't think it's going to be possible for us to go into this there were questions raised as to whether your complaint fell within the remit of the PCC and it took them time to resolve those questions. Once they resolved the questions, they upheld that part of the complaint which they felt they could deal with. Do you understand that?
A. I understand that that's what they wrote.
Q. Yes.
A. But I fail entirely to understand how an individual's medical records being appropriated and printed for commercial profit could not come under the remit of the PCC. If that doesn't come under the remit of the PCC, what the hell is the PCC for?
Q. I think they were saying it did.
A. Yes, but why did it take them so long?
Q. It was other matters they were saying they don't identify what those matters were that may be outside of the remit, but your essential complaint you can see that in the first paragraph of the adjudication, confidential medical information about you was published that's the complaint they eventually focused on and they upheld it. Do you follow? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON We don't know from this document the date of this adjudication. Everybody agrees well, you've said, but we can't agree it, that it took a long time but do you know the date? Do you remember approximately how long it took? The date isn't on it.
A. My recollection is that it's about three months, but LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Doubtless somebody will be able to tell us at some stage.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Don't worry about it. MR JAY There's another similar complaint, or rather issue, and you touched on this in paragraph 15 of your statement. It's much more recent. It involves a visit to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in March of this year.
A. Yes.
Q. First of all, Mr Grant, are you happy that we talk about that?
A. Yes, otherwise I wouldn't have put it in the statement.
Q. Fair enough. The article itself is under HG1. The internal numbering is page 14. It's a longer number at the bottom right-hand side of the page. It's the number ending 1932. HG1 is tab 2, Mr Grant.
A. Thank you. 1932.
Q. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON There's a 14 just above it.
A. Okay. Yes, I have it. MR JAY I'm going to ask you to comment about this. The details probably don't matter. You ended up in the Accident Emergency department of this hospital. What the article is saying, or may be trying to say, is that here was a famous man, he didn't pull rank, he waited his turn in the queue. We all know from these A&E departments that you sometimes have to wait a long time, particularly if it's not serious. You made no complaint. This all reflects rather well on you. Do you follow that? That's what they were trying to get at.
A. Yes, but that's not my interpretation of the story.
Q. Okay.
A. The classic tabloid technique to cover a really egregious breach of someone's privacy is to wrap it up in a nice story. So if they photograph someone's baby, they'll say, "Oh, what a pretty baby" to try and stop the parents suing them for breach of privacy. This is exactly the same. This is an article which says not only that I went to hospital for but what I went for. It's my medical record. It's the exact complaint, that I was dizzy and short of breath, which to me is a gross intrusion in my privacy and they have deliberately dressed that up as a flattering article about how undiva-ish I was to try and get away with that.
Q. I'll come back to further comment on it, but it ended up with The Sun either paying damages or paying to a charity; is that right?
A. Yeah. It wasn't just the Sun who ran that piece. The Express ran a piece similar, as I recall, and as I say in my statement, by that stage of my life this was only this year, wasn't it? I think it was this year. I was weary and, to a certain degree, wary of endless lawsuits against tabloids. They take a long time, there's a lot of stress. So I tried to shortcircuit it by offering them: "Look, there'll be no lawsuit if you just each pay ?5,000 to a charity which I support called Healthtalkonline", and seeing as they had both talked about my health online, I thought that was elegant. The Express flatly refused to pay a penny, and after much protesting, the Sun gave the charity ?1,500.
Q. Is this your point, Mr Grant, that it doesn't matter whether the underlying story is true; the point is it's an invasion of your privacy and there is not a public interest in people putting out articles about your health? Is that your point in a nutshell?
A. I think no one would expect no British citizen would expect their medical records to be made public or to be appropriated by newspapers for commercial profit. I think that's fundamental to our British sense of decency.
Q. No. To be fair to the Sun, we don't know the source of the story from the article itself.
A. No, maybe it was just a lucky guess. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I don't think they're probably suggesting that, but it could be a number of different cases.
A. What would they be, sir? MR JAY There could well be evidence about this later, but the story apparently came from a picture agency who had been tipped off by a non-medical employee at the hospital. Could that be true?
A. Well, there was no picture, so that bit's a little weird.
Q. Right.
A. But for them to know my medical the details of why I went there, it must have been someone with access to the computer where you register. I hope and I'm sure it was none of the medical staff, who I have to say were fantastic in that hospital, as they always are, but I suspect that it was the age-old system of someone at the hospital being on a retainer from either a tabloid newspaper or perhaps a picture agency. You know: "If anyone famous comes in, tell us and here's 50 quid or 500 quid", or whatever it is I am quite sure well, my opinion is that that was the source, as it had been back in June 1996, and as it was again recently in the case of my baby.
Q. In paragraphs 16 and 17 of your statement, you deal with other intrusions on your privacy, which I think we'll just, if you don't mind, take as read. I would like to move on to paragraph 18 and the section about paparazzi. You give one example at the bottom of paragraph 18 about being chased at high speed. Your girlfriend was. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?
A. That was a relatively common occurrence with two of the girlfriends I've had. They both have children and in both cases actually, that's not quite fair. The first girlfriend, when she was with me, we didn't have children, so that doesn't apply, but the second girlfriend although that first girlfriend has subsequently had children and been very badly chased and abused, but the second girlfriend, she did have children and she was frequently, especially in the early days of our romance, followed and chased, even when she had her children in the car and even when the children were not enjoying it, crying. They pulled up for petrol, they'd ask the paparazzi who pulled in and started taking pictures: "Please go away, there's children in this car and they're frightened", and these paparazzi would continue to take pictures and then they'd be bought by one of the national newspapers.
Q. The paparazzi presumably were working freelance?
A. Yes. As I explain in this statement, there are two kinds of press photographers. There are either ones who are on staff for the papers. They just occasionally show a modicum of decency, although they didn't in the case of, recently, my baby. They staked out a new mother for three days. She couldn't really leave her home. And then there are the much worse freelance paparazzi who are increasingly well, the police tell me they are increasingly recruited from criminal classes and very often they have criminal records, they have been in different fields of crime previous to being paparazzi and who will really stop the nothing, who show no mercy, no ethics, because the bounty on some of these pictures is very high, and I suspect that the ones who, for instance, were chasing my girlfriend and her children, were those freelance types. I suspect they were the ones who try to who always try to take pictures up girls' skirts and then digitally remove their underwear because they can sell the picture for a little more if they do that. I suspect they are the ones who were following Princess Diana when she died and whom the tabloid papers, particularly the Daily Mail, promised they would never buy pictures from again but which they subsequently did, about three months later. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Not now, but I'd like to come back to the mechanisms whereby any of that can be controlled, just for your view on it. Not now. Mr Jay will come to it.
A. Sure. MR JAY If we move on to the issue of hacking, Mr Grant, which you cover in some detail. To set the scene, you tell us in paragraph 24 that warnings started to come through from media lawyers about how to protect privacy, and amongst the advice they gave was that phone numbers should be changed frequently and voicemails set on PINs other than defaults. Can you remember when those warnings started to emanate?
A. I can't exactly, but I mean I'm guessing it was early 2000s, you know? Sort of 2000 to 2005, that kind of time.
Q. Right. Were you the direct recipient of such warnings?
A. I had circular emails that were sent from Schillings, the media lawyers, to lots of clients and to ex-clients. I think I might have been an ex-client of Schillings by then I can't remember and I remember looking at this list. It was just a warning, saying, "These are some of the things they're up to. Be careful of Bluetooth, be careful of your PIN numbers, be careful of your phones", and so on. "Get your car swept."
Q. Then, paragraph 25, you say it was about 2004 when someone came from the Information Commissioner's office?
A. Yes, out of the blue.
Q. Can you remember whether it was a policeman who came or was it an official from the Information Commissioner?
A. To be honest with you, I've always been confused about that. He was not wearing a uniform, but for some reason I've always told the story as a policeman, and maybe he had a rank or something. I wish I could tell you accurately and I can't find I've looked everywhere for the details of the meeting. I mean, it definitely happened. I didn't make it up. He came to my house, he sat in my kitchen and he told me that they had arrested a private detective, a private investigator, who whose notebook contained intimate personal details on a number of people and I was one of them. And that it contained my address, the address of my some close friends, relations. I remember him saying phone numbers, although I know you're about to contest that, but I can't imagine they'd come to tell me they had my address because everyone had my address. I said, "Who's this person working for?" And he said, "Well, it looks from his notebook like he's working for most of the British press."
Q. Yes, which might suggest it was the Information Commissioner's office rather than Mr Mulcaire, but
A. I'm sure it was. I'm sure it wasn't Mulcaire LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think you'll find the Information Commissioner employs ex-police officers. MR JAY Yes.
A. Yes, we know that because there was the story recently in the Independent about one of those police officers who was shocked that at the end of this particular inquiry, they weren't allowed to interview any of the journalists who had hired the private detective in the first place. MR JAY You're in danger of foreshadowing evidence we'll be hearing next week from the relevant person, but what I need to put to you, Mr Grant, is that it's clearly the Information Commissioner's office's position that they never discovered any evidence relating to phone hacking. So if that's right, it would suggest that your recollection must be incorrect and you must be confusing this with the Mulcaire notebooks and not the Wittamore notebooks.
A. I know that this wasn't the Mulcaire case that came to me. As I said to you before, I cannot understand why they would come and tell me that a man had my address, because everyone had my address. The paps were out there, you know, all the time.
Q. Yes.
A. So if he didn't also have my phone numbers at the very least and I think he said PIN numbers as well then I don't understand why he'd come to see me.
Q. Can I just break that down? Having your address, although it may not be that difficult a piece of data to obtain, could be attained in breach of the Data Protection Act. Do you follow me?
A. Yeah, yeah.
Q. And it may be that you are associating what could have been a reasonably limited if not unremarkable discussion which was limited to breaches of the Data Protection Act and then extrapolating from that and bringing in more sinister details about PIN numbers and possible evidence of voicemail hacking. Do you see that?
A. We're obviously not going to agree on this so we'll have to leave it. We'll have to park that issue. Certainly they were telling me about blagging and that kind of thing, certainly.
Q. Was that the phrase they used?
A. I can't remember. It was 2004. But it was LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I don't think you ought to assume that Mr Jay is agreeing or disagreeing. The fact it that as I'm sure you appreciate, it's very important that those others who are going to give evidence some of them have seen parts of what you've said in order to comment.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And part of the system is that you are asked about their concerns so they can respond.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON But you will shouldn't assume that because Mr Jay is asking the question, he necessarily is agreeing with or disagreeing with the proposition he's putting to you.
A. I understand. MR JAY Was Mr Wittamore's name mentioned by the gentleman, ex-policeman or otherwise, from the Information Commissioner's office?
A. I don't think so. But seeing as that whole Inquiry was about the Wittamore arrest, it's difficult to imagine that it was about anyone else.
Q. Yes, you learned that subsequently, didn't you?
A. Yes.
Q. The next event was a chance encounter with a Mr Paul McMullan, Mr Grant, and you deal with that in paragraph 26 of your witness statement.
A. Yes.
Q. Tell us about the chance encounter. We've read about it, but you ended up in the same car as him, didn't you?
A. Yes. I broke down
Q. Yes.
A. in my car in Kent, in the remotest countryside just before Christmas last year, and thought: "What am I going to do? I'm late for my appointment." And there was no taxis around, it was Christmassy, it was icy, and then amazingly a car van pulled up in the other carriageway of this dual carriageway, and I thought: "Good, some nice Kent-ish person has come to help", and instead out stepped a man with a great long lens. I thought: "I can't believe in the middle of Kent, in the middle of winter, there's a pap." And he came over and he took lots of pictures. I wasn't entirely polite to him. Then to my horror I realised there was no other way of getting to this appointment. He kept saying, "Do you want a lift?" and I thought: "I know this is in your interests that I take the lift", so I kept saying no. Finally I did, so then I was suddenly in the car with this man with my friend, and that is when he revealed that he was an ex-News of the World features editor who is now retired and running a pub down in Dover and he kept his camera in his glove box of his car just in case of some happy accident, which he'd just encountered. Then he went on to tell me all these fascinating things boasting, really about how extensive phone hacking had been at the News of the World, how Andy Coulson had known about it for sure, how they had enjoyed the competitive sycophancy of five successive governments, of the way they paid off the police for years, and I was thinking: "This is all amazing stuff. I wish I had a tape recorder." Then he dropped
Q. So to cut a long story short, the next time you saw him, you did have a tape recorder. That's right, isn't it?
A. Yes, that is right, yes.
Q. And indeed, there was a piece about it in the New Statesman, which again is in our bundle, HG1. On the internal numbering it's page 15, but on the longer number it ends 1933.
A. Yeah.
Q. Quite a zippy title.
A. Thank you.
Q. Is this, Mr Grant, a verbatim transcript of the tape recording?
A. Yes. There are boring bits left out. I put in just all the juicy bits.
Q. We've all read it and I'm not going to go over all of it, you understand, but I have been asked to go over in particular and I was in any event intending to do so the very bottom of the first page.
A. Yes.
Q. You're chipping in. It reads at the moment: "And it wasn't just the News of the World; it was And then it continues. First of all, can you remember what goes in the "?
A. No. That would be one of the boring bits. But I mean, it's nothing sinister. Or it could be that the jukebox was too loud at that point. The tape recording is quite hard to hear, and I was only able to transcribe it, you know, having just had the meeting.
Q. Yes. I suppose if necessary, we're not going to do it now, but we could listen to it, if you agreed?
A. Well
Q. Do you have a problem with that?
A. I do have a problem with that. I feel like I did my revenge number on Paul McMullen, and I for me, that's the issue closed with him, and when I've had now two separate police inquiries, the one into police corruption and the other one into phone hacking, they have come to me and they have asked for the tape and I've refused because that seems to me too harsh. I don't want to be sending Paul McMullen to prison. In addition to which, he has to be given some credit for having been a whistleblower on all this stuff.
Q. Okay. We note that answer, but I have to continue with your question.
A. Yes.
Q. it wasn't just the News of the World; it was, you know, the the Mail?" It was very much a leading question, Mr Grant, wasn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. There was no evidence
A. But I'm not a lawyer. I'm allowed to ask leading questions.
Q. Fair enough. But there's no evidence that you have to your personal knowledge that the Mail was involved in this at all, is there?
A. Um
Q. I'm asking you to be very careful when you answer the question. Don't share a speculation with us. Don't share an opinion. We're looking for evidence. There isn't any evidence, is there?
A. The evidence for the Daily Mail being involved in phone hacking for me would be the article we spoke about earlier, the plummy-voiced woman, and it would be Paul McMullen's answer to this question.
Q. Okay. Let's look at the answer then: "Oh, absolutely, yeah. When I went freelance in 2004, the biggest payers you'd have thought it would be the News of the World, but actually it was at Daily Mail. If I take a good picture, the first person I go to is, such as in your case, the Mail on Sunday. Did you see that story? The picture of you breaking down. I ought to thank you for that. I got ?3000." He's talking there about selling a photograph of you, isn't he?
A. Well, he segues into that, but I didn't leave anything out and, you know, if it helps, you can come around to my house and listen to the tape. I left nothing out between it wasn't just News of the World; it was you know, the Mail" and him answering: "Oh, absolutely, yeah. When I went freelance in 2004, the biggest payers you'd have thought it was the News of the World but actually, it was the Daily Mail." That is the sequence of the conversation. There's nothing left out.
Q. So what you're asking us to do then is to read carefully what he says and interpret his answer, and certainly one highly reasonable interpretation of his answer is that he's limiting his comment, his evidence, if you like, to the selling of photographs, isn't he?
A. As I said before, he segues in that answer straight on to photographs. He goes: "If I take a good picture, the first person I go to is So I agree that it's strange syntax, it's a segue, but I have no reason to believe that his answer, "Oh, absolutely, yeah", referred to the Daily Mail being involved in phone hacking.
Q. Okay, Mr Grant. I have to ask this blunt question. We'll hear from Mr McMullen and have his version. Had he been drinking?
A. Had I been drinking?
Q. No, had Mr McMullen been drinking?
A. He didn't seem drunk at all.
Q. He didn't?
A. No.
Q. And then you say: "But would they, the Mail, buy a phone-hacked story?" Isn't that a bit of an odd question, given that he hadn't referred to a phone-hacked story?
A. It's not an odd question at all, given that he'd just done this strange segue. So there's me trying to get him back on the interesting bits. It's not interesting that they bought photographs of me broken down; it's very interesting whether they were involved in phone hacking or not. So what I do is I immediately and there's no dot dot dots here I say, "but would they, the Mail, buy a phone-hacked story?" To which he answers: "For about four or five years, they've been absolutely cleaner than clean, and before that, they weren't. They were as dirty as anyone. They had the most money."
Q. It's a matter for comment, but he's not given any details there of any specific phone hacking activity by the Daily Mail, has he?
A. No.
Q. Then we can read on. Some of the rest of what he says is quite controversial, so it's probably best if I don't read it out, but
A. I thought this Inquiry was full of controversy.
Q. But some of it is controversial in the sense, Mr Grant, that it names particular names of people who
A. So? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, I'll explain. You know perfectly well there's a police investigation going on.
A. Ah, well that, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And I have to be extremely careful
A. I understand that. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON that I don't prejudice any potential prosecution.
A. Yes, of course. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And I'm sure you wouldn't want to either.
A. No, I wouldn't. MR JAY It is right to say, in case I sound too coy, that this has been published in the New Statesman, it's in the public domain.
A. Yeah.
Q. Anybody can Google it.
A. Yes.
Q. And frankly, we'll leave it at that, if you don't mind. Are you saying, for clarity, Mr Grant, that if the Inquiry wanted to listen just to the bits of the tape which we have been discussing specifically, it's something which you would be comfortable with or uncomfortable with?
A. Those bits, yes, because I don't think they send McMullen to prison, so it's fine. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I ought to make clear I'm not being too coy about the investigation. I've made some rulings about how we're going to go and we're going to do it, but I don't want to add unnecessary material into the public domain beyond that which it's necessary for me to go to identify the culture, practice and ethics of the press.
A. I get that. MR JAY To be absolutely clear, we are hearing from Mr McMullen as well.
A. Good luck.
Q. The position will be fully explored with him.
A. Yes.
Q. That's a helpful vignette into the case, the McMullen incident, but you also tell us about and I'm back to paragraph 27 of your witness statement. Earlier this year, officers from Operation Weeting came to see you and we've heard two other witnesses today speak about the same sort of situation and they told you that your phone had been hacked. Could you just tell us a little bit about that, that meeting, please?
A. Yes. They rang my lawyer the police rang my lawyer, wanted to show me some evidence. They came around and, as was one of the previous witnesses today explained, it's quite a formal thing. They get out these pages and they formally announce them, then they say, "Would you have a look at this page. Is there anything you recognise?" And I looked at it and saw various phone numbers of mine from the middle of the 2000 up to about 2005, something like that, together with some PIN numbers, together with some access numbers. You know, you used to get a separate phone number to ring your messages remotely from another phone. And then there were other names I recognised on there. People around me, girlfriends, people I knew, numbers, words that all sort of made sense. In one particular case, it triggered a memory of a couple of stories that had been in the Daily Mirror and in the Daily Mail and I found that interesting. But when you see these pieces of paper in the police inquiry, they redact certain bits, including the famous top left-hand corner, which is where Mulcaire kept the initials of the particular journalist who had commissioned the phone hacking, and so subsequent to that interview with the police, I was very interested to know who had commissioned that particular page of hacking, seeing as it hadn't this particular story had not appeared in the News of the World but had appeared in the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror.
Q. Again, you mention the Daily Mail. You mentioned it for the first time because it's not in your witness statement.
A. Yes, it is. LORD LEVESON 28. MR JAY Yes, my apologies, you have. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Just for the avoidance of doubt, the top corner, which of course we're cyphering again for the reasons I've explained, that was in fact somebody who you linked to News of the World?
A. To get access to the redacted top left-hand corner, I was told I had to ask for it formally through a court. I had to get a disclosure order from the Metropolitan Police, so I got it and it was in fact, or seemed to be, a journalist from the News of the World. So that is a mystery that he commissioned the work but it appeared in the Mail and the Mirror. MR JAY A mystery we're not, I believe, going to be able to get to the bottom of today or possibly at all. May I move on, please, to your supplementary statement. This deals with quite recent events, culminating in the grant of an injunction last week by Mr Justice Tugendhat, and we've seen a copy of his judgment. First of all, can I ask you, please, to look at HG2, which will be behind your witness statement in this bundle, not as a separate tab. I'm not going to go into this in much detail unless you want me to. It relates to a front page of the News of the World. The greeting is "Happy Easter". It's 24 April of this year. It looks as if these are photographs taken with a telephoto lens; is that right?
A. I would imagine so, yes. I was definitely unaware they were being taken. I wish I could find the piece of paper. Give me another clue where it's in. What's the tab number?
Q. It's under tab 2. If you go through the first six or seven pages, you'll reach the end of your witness statement and then you should find the start of an exhibit, HG2, and the first three pages of the exhibit are the article we are referring to. Are you with me on that?
A. Obviously, I'm being stupid. I'm on the second tab
Q. Third tab.
A. It's the third tab? MR SHERBORNE Can Mr Grant be handed a clean copy? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON He can have my copy if there's any problem with it.
A. Thank you very much. MR JAY Thank you, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is it vertical(?) one underneath the statement? MR JAY Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So do you have it now? MR JAY We're not concerned with the headline and we're not concerned with the detail, unless you want to discuss it. The real point is this is a telephoto lens, clearly, and you were unaware that these photographs were being taken?
A. Correct.
Q. And you also say in your statement that you weren't asked to comment before the piece was published, along with the photographs?
A. Correct.
Q. Had you been asked to comment, what might you have said?
A. I would have said nothing. There would have been no I wouldn't have returned the calls. No one would have returned the calls.
Q. Might you have taken proactive steps to protect your privacy, for example by taking legal proceedings?
A. If I'd done that, it would have drawn attention to the whole story. My overwhelming motive throughout this whole episode was to protect the mother of my child from a press storm, so anything like what you've just suggested would have been one way of alerting the media. It would have been a matter of public record, and they would have thought: "Oh, here's a good story", and her life would have been made hell, as it subsequently was.
Q. Turning that on its head, by doing nothing, your life and her life was made hell anyway, wasn't it?
A. Well, we held them off for a surprisingly long time. After this article, they followed her around. She was a single pregnant woman, she was being tailed by paparazzi, one in particular who frightened her a lot, over the months of her pregnancy, but they didn't have anything to print that could link her to me until I visited the hospital after the birth when, again, there seems to have been a leak from the hospital. At that point, the dam was breached and we were bombarded with calls saying, "We know that this happened, that Tinglan had a baby in the hospital and Hugh visited", and they even knew the fake name she checked into the hospital under. So clearly there had been a leak. Then, again, my attitude was to say nothing, which we did for a long time, and a lot of pressure was put on, the typical pressure of the tabloids. In this case, it was the Daily Mail who seemed to have all the information, the details of the hospital and the fake name, et cetera. They kept saying, "We're going to print this story anyway; what's your comment?" And because I've got wise to this technique over the years, it seemed to me that was a fishing technique and that they didn't want to print the story based solely on their hospital source because that might have been unethical or possibly illegal, so they needed a comment from my side and that is why I said nothing and I asked all my various like my assistant in London and my PR people in America, who didn't even know about this baby, to say nothing as well.
Q. We're moving ahead a bit. There's some quite important detail before we get to that stage.
A. Okay, I'm sorry.
Q. Particularly in paragraph 5 with your appearance on Question Time in July.
A. Yeah.
Q. Then you tell us about the phone calls to
A. Tinglan.
Q. Ms Hong's phone number?
A. Yeah.
Q. And we see what you say about it. The man said, "Tell Hugh Grant to shut the fuck up." After that, were the police involved?
A. When she told me about the next day, I immediately called my lawyer and we agreed to get the police onto it, which we did, but at the last moment Tinglan, the mother, probably rightly in retrospect, said, "Let's not do that because there's always a chance of a leak from the police and that will bring down the press storm on my head", so we didn't.
Q. Taking that in stages, the contact was made with the police. The police were willing to assist, were they not?
A. Yes. They were.
Q. But then they were, as it were, called off because of concern about leaks from the press to the police. That's the sequence of events, isn't it?
A. From the police to the press.
Q. Police to the press.
A. Yes.
Q. You touch on this or you deal with this in the final sentence of paragraph 6 of your second statement.
A. Yeah.
Q. I'm going to ask you to try and exclude from your mind supposition, speculation and opinion. Do you have any direct evidence of leaks from the police to the press of which you can give us evidence, Mr Grant?
A. I'm not quite sure where supposition blends into evidence, but
Q. What do you have direct knowledge of? Can we start with that?
A. All I know is that for a number of years, although it did get better in recent years, if someone like me called the police for a burglary, a mugging, something in the street, something that happened to me or my girlfriend, the chances are that a photographer or reporter would turn up on your doorstep before a policeman. So whether you call that supposition or fact, I don't know. On top of that, I have, of course, also all Paul McMullen's recorded testimony not testimony, but what he said about paying the police, you know, a third of the Metropolitan Police were on back-handers from the tabloid press.
Q. I think there you're commenting on other people's evidence. Can we try and confine it to your own evidence?
A. Sure. It wasn't just me who experienced this phenomenon of reporters or paparazzi coming around instead of a policeman. Other people who had been in the public eye who I used to have this conversation with complained of exactly the same thing.
Q. Right. I think what I'm trying to do is trying to ask you to give an example of something which might give rise to the inference that there was a leak from the police to the press, a particular example from your own experience, not you commenting on someone else's experience.
A. Well
Q. Do you see my point?
A. Yeah. I'm trying to think of a specific one. I certainly remember my one girlfriend being mugged and we called the police and it was photographers who came around first.
Q. Okay. Thank you. Going back to your second witness statement, you visited the hospital, I think, the day after the child's birth?
A. Yes.
Q. I think, if you don't mind me giving the date so it fits into the chronology, it's the end of September, isn't it?
A. Yes.
Q. And what happened after that visit in terms of press interest?
A. Well, I had been very reluctant to be present at the birth because of the danger of a leak from the hospital bringing this press storm down on the mother of my child and what was about to be my child.
Q. Yes.
A. So I had actually made a plan with the mother not to visit at all, but to visit when she got home from hospital a few days later. She was very happy with that plan, she had her parents there, she had my cousin there, my female cousin. But actually, on the day after the birth, I couldn't resist a quick visit. I thought: "I am going to try and get away with this." I went, I had a look, it was very nice, but the day after that I think it was, the phone calls started from the Daily Mail in this case, saying, "We know about Tinglan having had this baby, we know about Hugh having visited, we know what name she checked in under, we're going to write this story." So all my fears about the leak seemed to have been justified.
Q. The evidence you provide to the Inquiry in relation to that this, again, is in the exhibit HG2, which I hope you're going to be able to find in that bundle, or we can provide it to you separately. There are examples of emails and texts dated 21 October, which is three weeks and a bit after the birth.
A. Yes. Thank you.
Q. To be clear about this, the Daily Mail did not publish a story, did they, until the news had been broken by someone else? That's right, isn't it?
A. They threatened to, but because we didn't comment, they didn't, and so it was broken by an American magazine.
Q. You say they threatened to, but another way of looking at this is that until they had a comment from you confirming the truth of the story, they quite rightly decided not to publish. Would that be fair?
A. That would be wrong. It doesn't say it in these emails, but you could bring in my assistant or my publicity people in New York, who started to get the calls as well, and on these phone calls it was consistently: "We are publishing this story tomorrow", which is a tactic of brinkmanship to make you say something so they can stand up a story which would otherwise have to stand up entirely on a piece of leaked information from a hospital.
Q. Whatever they were saying to you in order to try to get you to confirm or deny the story, it is an incontestable fact they didn't publish the story, did they?
A. They did not, no.
Q. And it's a fair inference, isn't it, that the reason that they didn't publish the story was that you hadn't confirmed its truth?
A. I disagree with your interpretation. I think the reason they didn't publish it was because they would not have looked good to have published it merely on leaked information from a hospital, which is unethical.
Q. But they might have obtained the information from somewhere else altogether, mightn't they?
A. It's possible, but so highly unlikely that I find it incredible.
Q. Was there interest from other newspapers at this time?
A. There was the Daily Star, I think, were onto it in some way, yeah. But originally the whole story had been the subject of a back in the days of the pregnancy, had been the subject of News of the World interest, one journalist in particular. When the News of the World was closed down, that journalist appears to have moved over to the Daily Mail, because a lot of this work, these calls, come from that same journalist, now representing the Daily Mail.
Q. That's right. There's no evidence that that journalist, though, took any photographs with him from the News of the World to the Daily Mail, is there?
A. The photographs subsequently published in the Daily Mail when they did publish a story about my baby, some of those came from are identical to the pictures used earlier by the News of the World, so whether he took the pictures himself or one of his photographers took the pictures, they are the same pictures that the News of the World used, long lens surveillance shots, that the Daily Mail subsequently published more recently.
Q. Right. But those pictures could have been purchased from the same paparazzo that's the singular of the noun who had provided the photographs to the News of the World originally, couldn't they?
A. Yes, they could.
Q. I'm going to deal, slightly out of sequence, before going back, with the incident which culminated in injunction proceedings in front of Mr Justice Tugendhat. You cover this in paragraph 20 of your supplementary statement.
A. Yes.
Q. Potentially it was a very dangerous incident, because the grandmother of the child had to jump out of the way of the car in which was one or more of these individuals with the cameras; that's correct, isn't it?
A. Yes. The house where the mother of my child and my child were besieged was surrounded by these paparazzi, and I asked my lawyer what could possibly be done. He said maybe if they get some pictures of some of these people, we could have a chance, ask them to be called off. So the mother the 61-year-old grandmother of my child went out into the street, took a picture of a man sitting in a car with a great big camera. He turned around, took a lot of pictures of her, wound the window down, shouted a lot of abuse at her, and then as she crossed the door, he menaced her with his car, drove at her very fast, made her jump out of the way, and then at the end of the road, he did a u-turn and came back and menaced her again with the car.
Q. I think the police were also involved, were they not?
A. The police have been called and they are coming to see Tinglan on Wednesday about this.
Q. Oh, right. At the time, my understanding is that the police offered to go around and to get a statement or investigate the matter with the mother and the grandmother. Do you know about that?
A. I think I can't remember. I think we may have thought about that. I can't remember the exact facts, but certainly the police should be involved in this.
Q. Yes. But the police did want to become involved, and they were told and there's no suggestion that this is improper they were told by your solicitor you'd prefer in the first instance to get an injunction. Is that possible?
A. Well, that may be true that my solicitor said that, and he may well have been in the right in that a police investigation would have taken some time. It might have in the end put one bad pap away, but there were a whole bunch of them outside, and seeing as this was an egregious event, likely to warrant an injunction against all of these people, that seems like the right tactic that he adopted.
Q. Yes. No one's questioning the tactic or the strategy.
A. Okay.
Q. And we know what has happened and we've read the reasons of Mr Justice Tugendhat in a publicly available judgment.
A. Okay.
Q. But as a little coda to these serious matters, your publicist put out a statement about the birth.
A. In the end.
Q. Is that right?
A. Yeah, in the end, having held off all that time from all these inquiries and this brinkmanship from the British papers, a magazine in America, US magazine, seemed to have got hold of the story and they published, at which point I was in a sort of no-win situation. I, in the end, decided the best thing to do because the story within hours was going to go everywhere, particularly into the British tabloids and I was very anxious that they would give it a twisted spin, so I thought the best thing to do would be to be as honest about the thing as possible, so I said I was delighted with the birth but I did not want the papers to write a twisted version which suggested that Tinglan was a jilted girlfriend, so I tried to find a form of words to say that she was a friend but had not been a formal girlfriend and that therefore there was no question of her having been jilted as a pregnant mother.
Q. Was it your form of words or your publicist's form of words?
A. We had a hasty conversation on the phone while I was filming in Germany. It was not ideal circumstances. I was dressed as a cannibal at the time.
Q. Maybe you were, but the form of words which were alighted upon were these: "I can confirm " This is your publicist speaking on your behalf?
A. Yes.
Q. Hugh Grant is the delighted father of a baby girl." So far so good, as it were. "He and the mother had a fleeting affair and while this was not planned, Hugh could not be happier or more supportive."
A. Mm.
Q. Putting it bluntly, weren't you leading with the chin a bit, perhaps, with that form of words?
A. Well, as I just said to you, I felt it was important to be honest and not to have a wrong version, a twisted version appear in the papers which was that she was my girlfriend who had been dumped when she got pregnant, which was simply not the case, or that it was a planned pregnancy that I then ran away from. So I was protecting her reputation as a I didn't want her to appear to be a jilted girlfriend. I was protecting mine I didn't want it to seem that I was a monster who ran away from my girlfriend. It's true I've been given a hard time for using those words because which is ironic, seeing as it's actually the truth, but that doesn't seem to be very popular.
Q. Well, one alternative strategy might have been simply to confirm the birth of the child and that you're a delighted father, but otherwise words to the effect: "This is a private matter and neither the mother nor the father wish to comment further."
A. Yes, which would have been an invitation to the papers to write something invented about the relationship that I had with that girl. In the absence of information, they'll make it up.
Q. You see, what did happen in response to the form of words you selected you alight in one piece in the Daily Mail by Amanda Platell, which is written in a particular tone or house style, but other newspapers have put in similar pieces, as you're aware. Giles Coren in the Times saying words to the effect that you should marry the woman, there's some even in the Guardian, which isn't altogether complimentary, and something in the Daily Telegraph. It could be said all organs of the press are intruding into your privacy, but the theme from each of them is not inconsistent. Do you know what I mean?
A. First of all well, first of all, there were some supportive pieces as well, especially in the broad sheets, that said that you know, gave me some credit for having put my hand up and said, "This is my baby and I'm delighted with it", and providing for the child and the mother. The hatchet jobs that's fine; I expect hatchet jobs. That's been the story of the last 17 years. But it always does make you grind your teeth slightly when they're based on falsities and misreporting and a lot of those hatchet jobs were based, for instance, on the fact that I now had a 21-year-old German girlfriend, whereas in fact I don't. That was an invented girlfriend, invented by a German tabloid and then copied out faithfully by British hacks and it was also based on the hatchet jobs were based on the fact that I'd appeared to only visit for half an hour callously the day after the birth, when in fact if I'd been a really good father, I wouldn't have visited at all, seeing as it brought down a press storm on the mother's head.
Q. I'll just finish this little sequence of evidence before we'll break, but in terms of your privacy, is it your position that that these matters should not have been covered at all in the press or is it your position that they should have been covered in a certain way, in a way which didn't misrepresent?
A. Well, if you cling to the naive notion that newspapers are there to report the truth, nothing could really be wrong with that. I mean, I had a baby with this girl. She's a good friend of mine, she still is a good friend. It's a nice thing. There's really not much more to it than that, but that doesn't sell newspapers, so a nasty spin has to be given to it, hence the extraordinary efforts of various newspapers to dig dirt on the new mother happily enjoying her new baby while the Daily Mail paid ?125,000 to her ex-lover to sell private pictures of her.
Q. I think your complaint is it's not the intrusion into your privacy per se; it is the nasty spin they put on a story which, had they reported in a fairer and more accurate way, would have been a proper story for them to print. Is that right?
A. No, it's both. There are moments here which are intrusions into privacy. I think that if you have paid off someone at the Portland Hospital to tell you about a celebrity's baby, that's an invasion of privacy, for instance. But there's also ugly spin being put on a lot of this stuff because it sells papers better, and in the opinion of some people, the particularly ugly spin in the last few weeks given to the birth of my baby was not unrelated to the fact that I'm here today giving evidence at this Inquiry, and it's referenced in some of those hatchet jobs, including by Amanda Platell. She gives my concern about abuses of tabloid press as a particular reason why I should be loathed. So it is possible for some people to see a connection between those hatchet jobs and what I'm saying here and have said for the last few months.
Q. Yes, the bit that you throw in about paying off someone at the Portland Hospital, that is, I must say or must suggest, just a piece of speculation on your part. You don't know that that's how the story broke at all, do you?
A. Unless my cousin rang up the Daily Mail and told them, or the Chinese parents who speak no English did that, it's very hard to draw any other conclusion.
Q. Do you know how the American paper or magazine got hold of the story?
A. No. MR JAY Sir, this may be a convenient moment to break. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON All right. We'll have a break and you can have a break, too, but let me just ask this: you've been granted relief by Mr Justice Tugendhat; has that grant of relief been reflected in your child and matter mother being left alone?
A. Yes. Very grateful for it. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You'll be conscious that I've made it clear that I would want to know if intrusion arose as a result of anybody giving evidence to this Inquiry.
A. Yes, I heard that and I'm grateful for that, too. MR SHERBORNE Sir, before you rise, can I deal with two very brief matters of chronology? The first was raised in relation to the 1996 Daily Mirror article that Mr Grant refers to in paragraph 13 of his witness statement. Sir, you asked that it might be possible that we would have the dates. Can I just give you those dates, because we've managed to obtain them. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. MR SHERBORNE As I understand it, the visit to the hospital was in May 1996, 29 May. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. That yes. MR SHERBORNE The article which appeared in the Sunday Mirror was on 23 June of 1996. The adjudication was not until 27 July of 1997. So Mr Grant in his recollection perhaps was being somewhat generous. It took over a year for that adjudication to arise. As I understand it, a legal claim was issued in October of 1997, which resulted somewhat more speedily in the judgment that he refers to in paragraph 14 being given in his favour in December, only some two months later. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right. Thank you. MR SHERBORNE Then can I move on secondly to the injunction. Mr Jay referred to the report to the police and the decision to follow a civil course instead, or at least in the first instance. Can I just remind you, sir, that the incident relating to the paparazzo who was trying to run over Mr Grant's baby's grandmother took place on Thursday, 10 November, and I applied the next day for an emergency injunction on Friday, 11 November, which was granted by Mr Justice Tugendhat, although his reasons arrived a week later. The purpose, of course, was to immediately bring the campaign to an end, which, as you've just heard, it did, with remarkable efficiency. That's all I wanted to say, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes, and this chronology actually comes out of Mr Justice Tugendhat's judgment? MR SHERBORNE It does, sir. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Which we have. MR SHERBORNE We do. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you very much. We'll have ten minutes or as long as Mr Grant needs. (3.17 pm) (A short break) (3.25 pm) MR JAY Mr Grant, I have been asked to clarify one matter we covered earlier this afternoon. It's in your first witness statement and it's in paragraph 28, please.
A. Yes.
Q. You refer to a detailed expose story written by both the Mirror and the Mail. I won't ask you for details of the story as such, but can you help us with details as to the approximate date?
A. Yeah, summer 2004.
Q. Thank you. Go back to the issue of press misreporting and particularly in the context of your supplementary statement. You refer in that statement to two articles in the Sun, don't you?
A. Do I? What do I say? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let's look at it. What paragraph is it? MR JAY Paragraph 17, towards the bottom of that paragraph.
A. Yeah. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON This is the second statement? MR JAY It is, yes, pardon me. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAY I don't really want to go over too much of the detail of this unless you're content that I do so. You've seen, I think, the article in the Sun on 3 November. That's been provided to you today, hasn't it?
A. Mm.
Q. First of all, it shows a picture. It says that you're holding hands with someone but if one looks closely at the photograph I'm not giving expert evidence here it doesn't in fact look as if you are holding hands.
A. Correct; you can see the palm of her hand.
Q. Yes. Is the woman in the photograph, as it were, correctly depicted?
A. Again, I I'm useless with this folder. I can't
Q. We provided it to you separately. MR SHERBORNE Can I hand up my copy? MR JAY Yes. MR SHERBORNE I don't think Mr Grant has this. (Handed) MR JAY No.
A. So, there's three girls in this article, three pictures of three girls.
Q. Yes. We're looking at the one at the bottom of the page.
A. Sorry, two girls.
Q. Yes.
A. Yes. Is that
Q. It's the same girl?
A. That is the same girl.
Q. Yes. Because to be clear, the article on the following day, 4 November, is some different young woman altogether?
A. That's right. On the following day, the Sun published this article saying, "Hugh a new girl three weeks before baby", and there's a picture of me and a girl, who is not the same girl. In fact, I have no idea who she is. One of the reasons why they're unable to find any pictures of me and my new German girlfriend is because I don't have one. So they have had to find a picture of just me and some girl.
Q. To be fair to the article I'm just looking at what it says and not any inferences or innuendo which might be drawn from it this woman is not described as your girlfriend, is she?
A. What, you want me to read the whole thing now?
Q. I think you've had the chance to look at it. Maybe you'll trust me. She's not described as your girlfriend, is she? MR SHERBORNE I don't think Mr Grant has had a chance to look at that. He hasn't seen that before. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm sorry about that. Then he ought to have the chance to read it. MR JAY Yes.
A. Well, I don't know. To me, the headline, "Hugh a new girl three weeks before baby" suggests girlfriend, but maybe I'm reading a different language. MR JAY Mm, okay. I'm just trying to be fair to the authors of this piece, Mr Grant. It's for others to make a judgment about it.
A. You've been very, very fair to News International and to Associated today.
Q. I hope I've been fair to everybody.
A. You told me back stage you were going to bowl me straight balls, but if these are straight balls, I'd hate to see your googlies.
Q. Let me continue to bowl you straight balls. It also reports the woman's denial that this is other than a friendship, doesn't it?
A. It does. Right down at the bottom line at the end of the article.
Q. But then it does add in the middle a local report, which is the report from the German magazine, Bild?
A. Correct, which said there had been after this dinner, this innocent dinner I'd had with this German girl not this one but the one pictured on the page before. I'd had a completely innocent dinner, dropped her off in a taxi, and because the paparazzi had got a rather boring shot of a man getting into a taxi with a girl, woman, either he or his agency or Bild invented passionate kissing in the taxi, because there emphatically was none. And yes, I do know I'm under oath here. This is tittle-tattle. I only went on about it in my supplementary statement because it was a particular stick used to beat me round the head with during the birth of my daughter, and, some people think, because I'm here giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. So they look for any stick they can find and oh yeah, much too young girlfriend, even though she doesn't exist, and even though she had twice denied that she was my girlfriend. It wasn't just in the Sun. It was in many, many papers.
Q. I'm not putting a point of view. I'm just seeking to analyse what appears in this article and receive your comment upon it, and you've kindly given me that. Okay. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Could I just ask you: what's the position of the papers in Germany? Have they reported you in the way in which you've complained about being
A. Yes, yes, yes, and it wouldn't just be in Germany now. It's everywhere. I say in my main statement, you know, this is one of the problems, that if something's misreported, it just splatters all around the Internet instantly. So this is now fact that I have a new 21-year-old German girlfriend all round the world. Well, so what? It doesn't really matter that much except when it's used, you know, as a stick to beat me with again and again, and then it does become a little wearying, and you sort of wish that they'd bothered to either ask me or that they'd bothered to listen to the girl's two denials. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Is it possible to do something about this in Germany?
A. Well, really, it's not a big it's not like it's libellous. I was merely giving an example of the use of lazy reporting and misreporting to beat someone up a bit, if there was an agenda for beating someone up. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand your point.
A. If the girl had been 12, I would have sued. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand the point entirely, but I'm trying to understand what I can put a box around in this country, whether by way of recommendation or otherwise, and what impact that might have elsewhere in the world to somebody who isn't merely a national figure but has international status. Do you see the point
A. I think so. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm grappling with, that I've
A. If the story emanates from abroad, as this one did, your recommendation, whatever it might be, would have to be, you know, that you at least have to check the facts or perhaps I mean, it is hard for me to believe we're going to quarrel for hours over a piece of tittle-tattle. It doesn't really matter that much. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm not concerned about this particular article in terms.
A. I know. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Indeed, as you probably know, this part of this Inquiry isn't about who precisely did what at what circumstance to whom. I'm trying to look at a bigger picture.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And the bigger picture is not merely the whole question of regulation of the press in this country and their culture and practices, but also how that is impacted or affected by what happens abroad or what happens on the Internet. You heard the question I asked this morning.
A. Mm. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So I'm just trying to bet a bigger picture.
A. All I can say is when it comes to stories being copied around the world, they are copied from the Internet, and they're particularly copied if they come from a website that belongs to a newspaper because newspapers are generally considered to have a certain gravitas and to have been the news-gathering techniques to have a certain professionalism, albeit often that may be a mistaken assumption. But that is why you know, if a story is in a on a newspaper website, it will scatter much faster than if it's just on someone's blog or it's a tweet or something like that. I can sense I haven't answered your question. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON No, my question is really aimed at the impact that I can have on other press activity in relation to somebody with an international reputation simply by doing what I can do in this country.
A. There's obviously nothing you can do outside this country. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I agree.
A. But if you made our press behave more professionally, then stories that they write would not be so damaging when they spread around the Internet. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I see that. Then the question arises where stories emanate from. One of the stories you talked about actually I think you said emanated initially in America, but whether it went to America from here or where, I don't know.
A. That is always difficult to know. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I'm just trying to grapple with the whole problem; that's all. I'm certainly not focusing on individual stories.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON For the reasons that you understand.
A. Yes, yes. MR JAY Okay, Mr Grant, we'll move off the Sun in your second witness statement. I'm going to cover now some matters of opinion to try and look at the bigger picture. Before I do that, can I ask you some questions about publicity and publicists?
A. Yes.
Q. You've referred now at least once to a publicist you have in the US. Is that right?
A. Yeah.
Q. How many publicists do you have around the world?
A. Well, I have one. They're in New York, and I only use them sporadically when a film is coming out, and they're not for they're like anti-publicists. They're for not getting publicity but for fending off a studio may have a film coming out. The studio say Warner Brothers will be desperate for you to do everything, particularly in America, and the job of my publicist I pay them not very much money is to say, "No, he's not doing that, he's not doing that. He might do that because that's a classy one." That's all they're there for. Between films I don't pay them, they go on hiatus and they knew nothing about this until they kept getting calls from British tabloids saying, "We've head he's had a baby."
Q. It's not their function to advise you in relation to your dealings with the press?
A. It is in relation to my dealings with the press in America when a film comes out and a little bit around the world, although they try to be experts on what TV show is a good one to do if you're on a world tour in Russia, but obviously they're not massive experts on that, and to be absolutely honest, they throw up their hands when it comes to Britain. They say, "We have no advice. It's uncontrollable."
Q. Yes, okay. We did see, I think, in relation to that little piece in the Sun about your health, that your publicist declined to comment.
A. They called my assistant
Q. Just wait for the question, please.
A. Yes.
Q. It looks as if, rightly or wrongly, someone at the Sun telephoned your assistant or your publicist for comment and quite rightly got no comment. Is that a fair inference?
A. Yes, they will either have phoned the publicist in America, which is unlikely, or they phoned my assistant in London MR JAY Right.
A. who is an executive assistant. She's fantastic, but she's not a publicist, but they may have given her that label.
Q. Okay, I understand. So it's a standard PA?
A. Right.
Q. It's not really part of her role to advise you in relation to your dealings with the press?
A. Not at all. In terms of the British press, I have no advice except myself.
Q. Right. So if, for example, you give an interview to the press, you consult your own advice and no one else's; is that correct?
A. You're talking about the British press?
Q. Yes.
A. Well, in 17 years I've only given two interviews to the British press. The rest have all been either bought in from abroad or patch and pasted together or invented, and so the question doesn't really arise.
Q. Yes. You gave one interview, I think, in 2002, which has been drawn to my attention. So that you have your bearings, it relates to about the time you were doing a film with Sandra Bullock. Do you remember that?
A. Yes.
Q. I can't remember the name of the film now.
A. "Two Weeks' Notice"?
Q. Yes. The question you got was: "How frustrating is it for you that people are more interested in your love life than your films?" And your answer, probably quite accurately, was: "I do get frustrated but I do understand where the where the interest comes from."
A. Mm-hm.
Q. It's pretty obvious, isn't it, where the interest comes from?
A. Yeah, of course people are interested in people's love lives. We all have that natural curiosity or prurience. It doesn't mean to at that say that you can obtain that information illegally.
Q. No, of course not. Yes. Then you continue: "When I think about actors I know, I'd much rather hear about who they're shagging than what film they're doing next."
A. That remains true. But again, as I say, it doesn't mean to say that information should be obtained illegally.
Q. No, fair point, and then you go on probably into an area which it's unnecessary for me to
A. I know that it was given that quote, I think, comes from a press conference with a thing called the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the people who control the Golden Globes. It's always a very light-hearted occasion and always try to give light-hearted answers and as I say in my main statement, prior to about a year ago, if the subject of the British tabloids came up in an interview, I took the line that just about everyone else in the country who's ever been in the crosshairs of the British tabloids will take, which is to give either a neutral answer or a flippant answer
Q. Yes.
A. because to speak out and criticise is to invite a terrible press storm on your head and hatchet jobs, et cetera.
Q. Yes.
A. So I think the answer that you're referring to there, the Hollywood Foreign presentation, was one of those flippant answers.
Q. Yes. I assumed it was, Mr Grant. That's why I wasn't going to read it out. You quite rightly say that whatever the interest of the public may be in your private life, that cannot justify the use of illegal or probably, you would add, unethical news-gathering methods.
A. Right.
Q. Is that correct? What happens, though, if information has eventually entered the public domain and then once it's in the public domain, the press want to comment on it? Is it fair and right for them to do that, in your view?
A. I think not. I've always thought if they've obtained the information illegally or unethically, why should I help them with their story? After all, their motive in the first place was money, profit. It's almost never public interest. It's profit. Someone's making money out of this so why should I help them make money out of invading my privacy?
Q. Probably it's my fault for not asking the question not with ultimate precision. We see it a little bit in microcosm in relation to the recent history, that for whatever reason the Daily Mail don't publish. You've made your point in relation to how the Daily Mail, you think, obtained relevant information, but they didn't act on it. Eventually it comes out in the United States of America. We don't know on what basis they obtained the information for their story, but once it's out in the public domain, it's now in the public domain, and so everyone else by which I mean other organs of the press can now comment, can't they, on the story which is now, by definition, in the public domain?
A. Yes.
Q. Would you agree with that?
A. That's right, and from experience, I know that not only will they comment but they'll write it as news with a little embellishments. For instance, they will say "a friend tells us", or "an insider tells us", or "an associate tells us". And those are usually invented. They almost never exist. So they'll create a whole new story based on the original story which could have a very wrong or twisted slant to it. Hence my decision to put out a statement to try and give the real facts.
Q. You've added a sort of extra dimension, quite rightly, that we've got a story which is now in the public domain. Okay? It's unclear, particularly if it's in the States, how the American magazine or newspaper obtained the story. We simply don't know.
A. Yeah.
Q. Once it's in the public domain there, it's in the public domain across the world and now the press here comment upon it. Your point is: well, what they're certainly not allowed to do is embellish the story, add bits of news which are untrue. Okay, let's agree with that.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. But if they stop short of doing that and they don't embellish, but all they do is comment on you, maybe in a way you don't like
A. No, that's not
Q. do you have a problem with that?
A. No, I don't mind listen, I'm ready for comments. Believe me, I am very ready for that. I've experienced a lot of it. As I said earlier, I just do slightly gnash my teeth when those hatchet jobs are based on wrong facts or lazy journalism, like the 21-year-old girlfriend or like: "It was cruel of him to only visit for half an hour" when in fact I was being kind. I mean, I was trying to protect the mother of my child. That's annoying. But of course everyone's entitled to their opinion.
Q. Yes. Obviously the Inquiry needs to consider this issue of embellishment which is incorrect and ways that that can be corrected or addressed. Of course one way it can be corrected is that you can bring proceedings of defamation.
A. Yeah, if it's if my lawyer thinks it's defamatory, yeah.
Q. What about complaining to the PCC in relation to recent events? Have you thought about doing that?
A. My experience, as you saw way back in 1996, was not a positive one with the PCC. They took a year to decide that it was a wrongful thing for a hospital to give out my medical records. So I didn't have massive faith in them since then, and in the case of recent events, my lawyer did before he took out the injunction, while we were trying to work out a strategy to get rid of all these paparazzi and reporters who were besieging the mother of my child's house and making her life miserable and following her he did send a warning letter to the newspapers and he sent it via the PCC, and there was a 10 per cent dip in activity outside the house for maybe 12 hours, and then it was back to normal. So my verdict on their contribution to this was that they were ineffectual.
Q. Okay. Another factor in your case, which I suppose adds to the LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Sorry, Mr Jay, let me just consider that for a moment. The PCC at the moment is monitoring or provides a service to certain of the press but that won't ever touch paparazzi.
A. The freelance paparazzi? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON The freelance paparazzi.
A. Right. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON So one of the things that one would have to think about is whether one could devise a system that bites irrespective of whether you're employed by a newspaper.
A. Yes. You're probably right. Or to somehow kill the market for those pictures. I think, you know, there would be no rogue paparazzi if there wasn't big national papers paying for their pictures, and so I'm not quite sure which end of that you attack first. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, the question then arises, which goes back to the question I was asking just a moment ago, about international interest, because one could say one could do something about paying for pictures in this country but one wouldn't be able to regulate the sale of pictures abroad.
A. That is true. That is true. But I think, if I'm right, in France there's various laws for instance, you can't take someone's picture in a public place, and that does give a much more humane, civilised existence to people in the public eye despite the fact that presumably those pictures could come back in from abroad. Is that what you were saying? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Well, there are various problems. One can think about the domestic market, which is what I'm mainly, obviously, focusing on, but I have in you somebody who has the international perspective because of the interest that's been shown in you internationally.
A. Yes, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm just wondering how that plays into the picture.
A. I don't know the answer to your question, I'm afraid, in terms of international. All I can tell you is that not just in my opinion, but in the opinion of other people who are quite well-known around the world and who, for instance, sometimes do tours, publicity tours for a film or whatever, they're unanimous in saying that by far and away the worst territory to do any kind of publicity in is this one. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It may be that's right and maybe therefore I just shouldn't worry about anywhere else. I'm just looking for your assistance; that's all.
A. I think that's right. There are certain pockets of quite toxic yellow journalism around the rest of the world, but on the whole, it's still done with a certain elegance, an elegance that we've lost in the last 30 years in this country. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Thank you. MR JAY Quite a lot of what you have said is directed to the Daily Mail. Can I ask you this, though: whether in the context of the Amanda Platell article or more generally, if one strips away the factual inaccuracies, particularly in relation to the German woman and you've clearly made your point about that do you have any other broad objection to her piece, notwithstanding that it is true to say it's very critical of you? On a human level, of course the answer is: "Of course I do, I don't like to read that sort of stuff."
A. Yeah.
Q. But I'm asking you to think more abstractly in terms of where the boundaries should be drawn in terms of regulating these pieces. Because after all, all she is doing is exercising her right to comment.
A. Right. Well, that's fine.
Q. That's fine, is it?
A. Yeah, it's fine. It's sad that it's based on so much lazy reporting, you know.
Q. Okay.
A. The visit to the baby and all that kind of didn't know the facts, and it is possible that as many of my friends, professors of journalism who have rang me up and said it's clearly a deliberate hatchet job because you're speaking against the tabloid press that may be true, but I was reluctant even to talk about it in this statement because I've always felt that comment is comment and it's not really cool to comment on it. But I was persuaded that because of this theory that it might be a stick to beat me with because I'm doing this, that maybe it was relevant.
Q. Yes. I've put in the equation three other articles which are admittedly not couched in quite the same language but which make the same sort of critical point about you.
A. Mm-hm.
Q. So we're weighing up quite a lot of material of a similar nature. Maybe you hadn't seen all of those.
A. I haven't seen all of them, thank God, but I'm sure, as I said earlier you keep coming back to this point they are based largely on a lot of misreporting.
Q. Yes.
A. But for the parts that are not based on misreporting, it is perfectly fine to hate me. I have become very accustomed to that. It's been extremely fashionable for a long time and that is what I expect in this country.
Q. Okay. Mr Grant, we probably have another half an hour. I'm going to give you the opportunity now, as I have given previous witnesses, to, as it were, elaborate your opinion. Your opinion is contained mainly in your first statement, beginning at paragraph 39 and 40.
A. Yes. This is where I go through my ten myths.
Q. Your ten myths. What I'd like to do with you is make sure that we've got your points, okay, and that we're not skating over them.
A. Yes.
Q. And that we have them in mind. Your first point is one I think we'd probably all agree with, that it isn't only celebrities and politicians who suffer at the hands of popular papers. You've given us quite a few examples there, and indeed some of the examples you've given are human beings who will testify before this Inquiry very shortly.
A. Yeah, I talk about particularly vulnerable people who have been victims of trauma, such as the Dowlers who we saw earlier today, or the victims of the London bombings or families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Then I talk about collateral damage.
Q. Yes.
A. Where, say, my phone is hacked but so is my assistant's, my you know, my brother's or my father's, whatever it might be. Innocent people having their privacy invaded just because they're in the it's collateral damage. And then I talk about innocent people who have been monstered by the press, like Christopher Jefferies or Robert Murat or Madeleine McCann, who the press have implied very heavily are guilty of heinous crimes when in fact they're entirely innocent. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You didn't mean Madeleine; you meant her parents?
A. I'm sorry, yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I understand, and I only corrected not to get at you but because I don't want anybody to think that you said that.
A. Yes, well, I did and I was wrong. MR JAY Then you deal, myth two, with the issue of whether egregious abuses of privacy were confined to the News of the World and you express your opinion about that. Of course, here you're hitting one of the central points of this Inquiry. This is what we're trying to investigate. We're looking at all the evidence and we've heard your position on all of that.
A. Yes.
Q. And you've given us direct evidence in relation to Mr McMullen and obviously everything he says will be taken fully into account.
A. Yes, and I'd just like to echo what I heard from one of the earlier witnesses, that given the cross-fertilisation of journalists in the tabloid world, it's highly unlikely that they only practise dark arts for one title. They were always swapping titles and I can't believe that they didn't practise those arts in other places as well.
Q. Your third myth is the risking throwing the baby out with the bath water point. Could you elaborate on that one, please, in your own words? What are you getting at there?
A. Well, it is a commonly voiced opinion that you cannot in any way regulate or improve or legislate or for the worst practices of the worst of journalists in this country without damaging free speech, without muzzling proper journalism, and the metaphor that's endlessly bandied about is: be careful of throwing the baby out with the bath water. I've always said that I don't think it is that difficult to tell the difference between what is bath water and what is a baby. To most people, it's bloody obvious, and that I have always thought that you just simply take the baby which in this case is excellent journalism; we're lucky to have some of the best in the world in this country out of the bath and let the bath water run out. Everyone says it's a very difficult distinction to make, what's good journalism and what's not, and although I don't say it's black and white, there's a grey area, I think it's a lot less grey than people make it out to be.
Q. Thank you. Your fifth myth is a related point, which is that over-regulation will lead to tyranny. Can I ask you, please, though about what your positive proposals would be in relation to press regulation? LORD JUSTICE LEVESON It's not compulsory for you
A. Sorry, say that again? You're actually on myth four, I think: "Any attempt to regulate the press means we're heading for Zimbabwe." Which is another of these arguments like "don't throw the baby out with the bath water" that we often hear, and I simply make the point that (a) that is way too simplistic and (b) very often insincere. It's very often used by tabloid newspapers to protect their lucrative business model, which is, after all, almost no journalism now it's mainly the appropriation, usually through illegal means, of British citizens' fundamental rights of privacy to sell them for profit and that this argument that you can't in any way deal with that without us living in a state like Zimbabwe is not only absurd but it's also highly convenient for them. There are, of course, many gradations of regulation between Zimbabwe and between being the total free-for-all that we have now.
Q. Yes. I think this Inquiry, if you're able to assist to this extent, is concerned with the gradations particularly in the middle of this spectrum. No one is suggesting, I hope, anything close to a form of regulation which will lead to Zimbabwe or tyranny. We're concerned with something much less extensive than that.
A. You are, yes.
Q. But can you help us, please, with some positive suggestions? It's an invitation. You don't have to take it up.
A. There are forms of if you take at one end of the scale state regulation, and you take at the other end of the scale no well, self-regulation, there are various gradations in between, including what some might call co-regulation, which would be regulation by say a panel that both be comprised of partly journalists but partly also non-journalists, experts in the field, professors of journalism, who would draw up a Code of Ethics and would apply it with proper sanctions, meaningful sanctions, either financial or in terms of apologies, but which would need and this is where it gets interesting. To have any teeth and to be meaningful, it would have to have, right at the back, as a backstop, some kind of regulation. Otherwise it would be easy, for instance, for the Express Group, as they have done now, to walk-away from the PCC, and say, "We're not having any of that", or you could set up a new regulator who would find some appalling abuse by a paper and say, "You're fined ?200,000", and they say, "We're not paying." Somewhere there has to be a little bit of statute right at the back to make it more meaningful. But there are people much more expert on this than me, and I'm sure you'll be calling them. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON You're absolutely right that we'll be calling a range of people with ideas, but certainly from my perspective it's abundantly clear this is a topic that you've thought about carefully. You've obviously suffered as you've described and had the experiences you've described, whether justifiably or not, and therefore I wanted to make sure that you had the opportunity to say anything you wanted to say on the subject.
A. Well, I mean I come to that sort of at the end of my statement, yes, that is when I say that I think there are midways that could make everyone happy. The press is, after all, the only industry in this country that has a profound influence over other people, over our citizens, that is regulated only by itself. There's no other industry like that, whether it's medicine or advertising, it's all regulated, and no one calls for those regulators to be tougher than our press, and yet when it comes to themselves: no regulation, "we'll do it ourselves"; which, although a lovely idea, which would be fantastic if it had worked, has absolutely been shown not to have worked for the last 20 or 30 years. You know, we've had so many last chance saloons and it's been a failure, and this is the big opportunity now, this Inquiry, in my opinion. MR JAY Thank you. The fifth myth: current privacy law under the Human Rights Act muzzles the press. You make the point a breach of privacy case has never been taken against the Guardian, to your knowledge.
A. Yes. There's a lot of squealing, again from the tabloid press, about these injunctions and so on and they say it muzzles the press and it has a chilling effect, et cetera, and I just make the point, well, first of all, no one's taken a privacy case against the Guardian; and secondly, if there's a public interest defence, why in the case of many the vast majority of these injunction cases, does the newspaper in question not even bother to turn up to defend their piece on the grounds of public interest? The judge sits there and says, "Well, where's the paper?" and the paper doesn't turn up, and I ask: is that because there is no public interest defence? And I think we all know the answer to that. And I make the point that ultimately it all comes down to public interest and who is better to decide whether a piece of journalism is in the public interest or not? Would that be a judge or would it be the tabloid editor who stands to profit commercially from the piece? To me, it's the judge, and I would argue that most of the judgments made in these injunction cases have been right, and nor versus they been biased. We saw that in the Rio Ferdinand case recently. The judges are quite ready to rule the other way, whether rightly or wrongly, wrongly in my opinion in that case, but they're quite ready to go either way, and that all this fuss from at least the tabloid end of the British press about these injunctions is bogus and convenient.
Q. Thank you. This leads into the sixth myth, which is a related point
A. Yes, I just mentioned that.
Q. (overspeaking) there you say they don't. You've expressed a view about the Rio Ferdinand case and we'll see what happens to that. Permission to appeal has been refused by the single lord justice, but we understand the application is being renewed. Myth number 7: privacy can only ever be a rich man's toy. That depends a bit on the survival of conditional fee agreements, doesn't it?
A. I think it depends on that and on establishing a proper regulator.
Q. Yes.
A. If you establish a meaningful regulator, if you have your privacy abused or you're libelled, you should be able to go straight to the regulator and skip the whole court process, especially if you're not a person of means, it's a wonderful thing to be able to go to, and I think that would be the most wonderful thing to come out of this Inquiry, if there was a proper regulator that gave access to justice of that kind without having to go through the courts. But there will always be cases when people will have to go through the courts, and when they do, it is scandalous, in my opinion, that this will now be if what is going through Parliament now on the back of the Jackson Report happens, people without great means will be excluded from justice. If you look at the Dowlers, used a CFA to if their phone hacking case against the News of the World. They would not have been able to make that case, they would not have been able to prosecute that case without a CFA. Chris Jefferies, the man wrongly accused of that murder down in Bristol, wrongly maligned by the press, had to use a CFA to get justice. Sara Payne, same thing. Without CFAs, those people have no justice, and this whole campaign to restrict the use of CFAs has been very heavily pushed by the tabloid press, and the government, in its infinite obedience to the tabloid press, has simply said, "Yes, fine."
Q. Okay, thank you. That's very clear on that point, Mr Grant. The eighth point: most sex exposes (exposes, I think that should be) carry a public interest defence. I think you've already made your position clear on that, but
A. I I.
Q. please say whatever you wish to say in addition.
A. I say that there are certainly cases where there is a public interest defence. If you're a politician who campaigns on a family values platform, then it's definitely a public interest to have his and he's being you know, having an extramarital affair or he likes to dress up as a nun and sleep with prostitutes, we need to know about it because he's a hypocrite. But I think that the vast majority of these exposes of people's sex life are not in the public interest and the public interest defences as offered by tabloid newspapers are very flimsy at best. They'll say, oh well, you know, Ryan Giggs trades on his reputation, but he doesn't, he trades to me, quite clearly, on the fact that he's a brilliant footballer and I don't believe that anyone is buying a pair of Ryan Giggs football boots because they think that he's a great family man. I think they're buying it because he's won lots of trophies for Manchester United. Funnily enough, I read in the Independent this morning that apparently I do the same thing, I trade on my good name, and therefore there's a public interest defence in going into my private life, but I wasn't aware I traded on my good name. I've never had a good name. And it's made absolutely no difference at all. I'm the man who was arrested with a prostitute and the film still made tons of money. It doesn't it doesn't matter.
Q. Okay. I think that's very clear, Mr Grant.
A. Okay.
Q. Myth number nine: this is the sort of development of the Faustian pact idea, isn't it?
A. Yes, it's another very common defence of what I would call the privacy invasion industry; some people would call it at tabloid press. What I say is the myth is that people like me want to be in the papers, and need them, and therefore our objections to privacy intrusions are hypocritical. Then I go on to, at some length, explain how that is a myth that in my business for instance, what I need is not to be in the Sun or the Daily Mail or the Mirror; it's to make enjoyable films. That is 85 per cent of success. About 10 per cent of success is that the film is then well marketed. You know, if someone cuts a good trailer or a good TV spot. Then right at the end, about 5 per cent of the success might be that just before the film comes out you bang the drum a bit and do a bit of publicity. So it's quite minor and you are under an obligation to do it, not just sometimes it's contractual, but more often it's just a moral obligation. Someone put up a lot of money for the film, hundreds of people, sometimes thousands, have worked on this thing for over a year. If you didn't do a little bit of publicity, you'd be about monster, you'd be a bit of a diva, people would hate you, so you have to do a little bit. But it's only 5 per cent of what contributes to the success of a film, and within that 5 per cent, how much of that is tabloid newspapers or even newspapers at all? Very little. What everyone does now is they favour broadcast media. You reach many more people faster, you can't be misquoted, so everyone is doing television and radio. If tabloids were so important to the success of a film or the success of an actor or the success of a singer, why is it that, for instance, none of us in the large ensemble cast of "Love Actually" talked to any tabloid newspaper at all when the film was released and the film was still gigantic. The theory put about by the tabloid papers, that they are responsible for the success of films and they create stars, is entirely spurious. It's either their mad arrogance, because they live in this funny cocoon of self-importance, or it's highly convenient because it gives them a chance to the say, "If anyone criticises us, it's hypocritical."
Q. Particularly if one goes back towards the start of your successful part of your career in the early 1990s, didn't it help your career that you were quite constantly in the public eye?
A. No.
Q. Didn't that make you more attractive to future filmmakers, possibly?
A. No. That is another
Q. Why do you say that?
A. I would argue that's another myth put about by tabloids. What made me attractive to other the filmmakers was that "Four Weddings and a Funeral" made gazillions at the box office. That's all they care about. After all, a couple of films later, as I say, I was arrested with a prostitute, got a lot of you couldn't call it positive press, and I was still very hirable because the films made money. That's all that, in terms of a career, that the studios cared about, and audiences only care about whether the film is entertaining or not. I could show you examples of films that is have wall-to-wall tabloid coverage before they come out and still die at the box office because they're not entertaining. It's a big myth. I personally have actually argued with my lawyer over the years when making settlements, libel or whatever, with papers, saying, "Please, forget money, forget an apology, just make them give an undertaking never to mention my name again", and I could bring you a list of hundreds of people in the public eye in this country who would happily sign up for that. It's such a myth to say oh, we want it so badly, we're so vain, we're dying to be in the papers. It's the last thing anybody wants, to be in a British tabloid paper, unnecessary, so long as the work you were doing at that moment is okay.
Q. You deal with, I suppose, one aspect or the last aspect of the Faustian pact point in paragraphs 81 to 82 of your statement.
A. Yeah.
Q. What is the consideration, if one uses a legal term, if you do an interview with a newspaper or magazine? You're saying here, well, it doesn't give a lifelong licence to publish whatever you like about the subject matter of the interview?
A. Yes.
Q. That, of course, must be right as a matter of common sense, but it surely gives some licence to comment, possibly unfavourably, on the subject matter of the interview?
A. Yeah, of course, that would be fine. Absolutely fine. But I'm talking here about intrusion, and I have heard the defence quite frequently from tabloid papers: "Oh, well, you know, if you have ever talked about your private life, then you have no defence, you have no right to an expectation of privacy", which I think is absurd. Because anyone I mean, as I told you earlier, I think I've only done two interviews ever with the British press, but when anyone does do an interview, it is, after all, a bargain. The press of that paper gets a boost in sales, they hope, and the person who's giving the interview gets a bit of noise about their forthcoming project. And like any barter, when it's over, it's over. If I sell you a pint of milk for 50p, I would not expect you to come to me forever afterwards, saying, "You slut, you sold me milk once. I can now help myself to your milk forever." I would think you were mad.
Q. I think your point is more specifically that having conducted this little contract, it certainly doesn't authorise the press subsequently to investigate you in an unlawful or unethical way or intrude into your privacy?
A. That is what I'm saying. Yes, exactly that. I do believe that enshrined in our bill of rights, you know, article 8 is a person's basic expectation of a right to privacy, and I don't think that you should have to give that up just because you once gave an interview about a film to the Daily Mirror.
Q. Yes. Then the tenth myth is the lovable rogue point.
A. Yes.
Q. Which you say they clearly are not.
A. Well, you know, you see them glamourising themselves as, you know: "We might be a bit naughty but we get the story", but when the story has been obtained by hacking the phone of a murdered school girl or of the family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, I don't find that lovable and naughty. I found that cowardly and bullying and shocking, and most shocking is that this has been allowed to go on for so long with no one putting their hand up and saying, "Stop." Not the police, because they're intimidated, not our MPs, because they've been intimidated, and not our government, because they've been intimidated.
Q. Your positive proposals for the future you've touched on already and they're encapsulated, are they not, in paragraph 88 of your statement?
A. Yes. We sort of went over them. I give you well, paragraph 86, in a nutshell, it seems clear to me that it should be unacceptable and illegal to deprive a person of their fundamental human right to privacy unless there is a real public interest defence. It's not rocket science and the ways I would protect it are (1) I would resist the clamour of the privacy-stealing industry to close down our privacy law as it's emerged through common law, through the Human Rights Act, and I would disband the PCC and create a proper regulator with teeth, which would not only protect people from abuses of privacy or libel as a first port of call, but it would also be there to protect good journalism. You know, this is the other side of all this. I'm, for instance, keen on libel reform. I'm keen to see good journalism protected as much as one possibly can. I'm the reverse of a muzzler. But I personally feel that the licence that the tabloid press has had to steal British citizens' privacy for their commercial profit very often vulnerable British citizens is a scandal that weak governments for too long have allowed to pass. MR JAY Mr Grant, is there anything else you wish to tell the Inquiry? We've covered the ground
A. No. I mean, it's a strange form of interview, in the sense that I wish I'd been able to read my two statements out loud first, because, you know, we haven't really it's all been me defending positions in them without anyone knowing what the statement actually says. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I think you'll find the statements will be available.
A. Yeah, well, I hope people read it. MR JAY They will, Mr Grant, and also all the points, I'd like to think, that you wanted to bring out, you have brought out, but if you feel there's a point that
A. There is one final point.
Q. Okay, please bring it out.
A. Because I'm tired, I wouldn't mind reading it, actually, seeing as it's in my statement. It's my conclusion. I just say: "I don't want to see the end of popular print journalism. I wouldn't want a country that was fawning to power or success. I like and admire and would always want to protect the British instinct to be sceptical, irreverent, difficult and to take the piss and that a free press is, of course, the cornerstone of democracy." There's no question about that. I just think that there has been a section of our press that has become allowed to become toxic over the last 20 or 30 years, its main tactic being bullying and intimidation and blackmail. I think that that needs a lot of courage to stand up to and I feel that it's time you know, this country has had historically a good record standing up to bullies, and I think it's time that this country found the courage to stand up to this bully now. MR JAY Thank you very much.
A. Okay. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Grant, thank you very much. I'm conscious that a lot of effort went into making the statements you made.
A. Yes. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON And although you may have felt that you were on a back foot too often, it was a way of getting the picture across so that everybody has had the chance, through Mr Jay, to ask questions, but the thrust of your evidence contained within your statements is clear and you have no need to doubt that I've read it or not paid full attention to it and won't continue to pay full attention to it.
A. Well, thank you very much. Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Right, thank you. Anything else? MR CAPLAN Just the issue of anonymity, if I may. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Let Mr Grant return to where he comes from so that he can just relax for a moment. Right, yes. Discussion MR CAPLAN Only this: that you made a ruling on 9 November. If anybody was thinking of exercising their rights under section 38 of the Act to seek any review of that ruling, the time obviously expires on Wednesday. Since then, of course, there has been a draft anonymity protocol. I think you invited any further submissions to be with you by last Thursday at 5 o'clock. We've certainly put in some submissions. I was just raising the matter to see if you wished to confirm the protocol or add anything during the course of tomorrow before the time limit expires. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON I'm happy to do that. I think that essentially many of the points to be made I take on board. I'm happy to clarify some things if they need clarifying I'm not entirely sure they do but I'd be surprised if anything in the protocol could impact on the fundamental decision that I made in my ruling. But if there's anything that needs to be done tomorrow, I'll do it. I think there are two slightly separate issues. There's the anonymity that I've granted to one of Mr Sherborne's clients, who I know as HJK, and there are some knock-on consequences as to how we're going to deal with his evidence. In the absence of anybody saying anything to the contrary, I propose to maintain that anonymity and to allow him to give evidence in a way that ensures it. That will require taking certain measures. For example, he's likely to give evidence in a cleared Inquiry room. Obviously the core participants' lawyers will be present, but otherwise, nobody. I'm likely not to have the running transcript but to publish a transcript as soon thereafter as possible, in case something emerges that needs to be redacted. In that way, I hope that his evidence will be put into the public domain but in a form that doesn't damage the anonymity that he has sought and which I have found to be justifiable. If anybody has any comment about that I appreciate you've only just recently seen the suggestions in that regard I'd be very, very interested to hear them. As regards other people, I'll make sure that I have a final protocol for you to look at tomorrow, but as I say, I don't think it should really make a difference to whether or not there is an issue that's worthy of ventilation in the Divisional Court, which of course is your decision entirely. MR CAPLAN Thank you. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Mr Jay? MR JAY Just a couple of points. First, we just received submissions from the Metropolitan Police in relation to the anonymity protocol just this afternoon, so those will have to be considered for obvious reasons. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. Now that's come out, I'll say the reason there hasn't been one is because it was only up to literally the end of Friday that I saw the last one. I wasn't sure we'd got them all and indeed, now you've heard that I hadn't got them all and I didn't want to finalise anything until we'd heard from anybody. That's what I say in my own defence, which I wasn't going to say anything about. Right, anything else, Mr Jay? MR JAY In relation to HJK, there's one issue which need be touched on, whether when he gives his evidence he will not give evidence in relation to any named newspaper. In other words, that will be redacted out of his evidence. LORD JUSTICE LEVESON Yes. I've made it clear, I think, if not in a ruling then certainly in argument, that in relation to any anonymous witness, in order to protect the position of any of the media, it would be quite wrong to allow names or titles to be identified. I'm not going to make decisions about names and titles. As everybody knows, I'm looking at custom and practices and ethics across the piece, which is why my questions to Mr Grant were of general rather than specific topics. I would adopt the same process for HJK, so if that's a matter of concern to anybody, then they should say so. Thank you. Well, thank you very much indeed. I repeat my thanks, as I will to all the witnesses, particularly those who have come, as all have today, voluntarily. Thank you very much. (4.28 pm)


Gave a statement at the hearing on 21 November 2011 (PM) ; and submitted 4 pieces of evidence


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