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Hugh Grant says non-Murdoch tabloid also hacked his phone

November 21, 2011 | 12:40 pm

Hugh Grant

This post has been corrected and updated, as indicated below.

Hugh Grant joined the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in testifying before a British judge on Monday in the public inquiry into the journalism practices of the U.K.'s tabloids.

The actor claimed that a Mail on Sunday reporter hacked his cellphone in 2007. The revelation was notable in that it was the first time a paper not owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. was fingered for having reporters who would hack into notable personalities' phones in pursuit of exclusives.

Grant said that a 2007 story claiming his relationship with writer Jemima Khan was in trouble could have come only from phone hacking.

"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," the actor said.

"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," he continued.

The "Bridget Jones's Diary" actor also claimed that a detailed description of the interior of his London flat that appeared in the tabloids following a break-in and subsequent police visit could have come only from phone hacking.

Grant, who sued the paper owned by Associated Newspapers Ltd. for libel and won, did not have any hard evidence to prove that they had hacked his phone, but he said, "I'd love to hear the Daily Mail or the Sunday Mail's explanation of what that source was if it wasn't phone hacking."

[Updated, 5:10 p.m. Nov. 21: Associated Newspapers has denied wrongdoing in the stories referenced by Grant.]

The star of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "About a Boy" first generated public interest in the phone-hacking practices of British tabloids when he wrote an article in the New Statesman in April 2011, turning the tables on a former News of the World reporter and revealing the tab's shady practices.

Grant was joined by the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler -- hacking of her phone after she was abducted gave the family false hope that she was still alive -- whose case led to Rupert Murdoch shuttering News of the World permanently.

Grant isn't the only celeb expected to testify before senior judge Brian Leveson this week: "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling also will make an appearance.

[For the record, 5:10 p.m. Nov. 21: This post originally said the story about Hugh Grant's relationship with Jemima Khan, which he sued over in 2007, was published in the Daily Mail. It was published in the Mail on Sunday. The Daily Mail separately published a story recently about the birth of his child, featuring information Grant also alleged was acquired through phone hacking. Associated Newspapers has denied wrongdoing in the gathering of information for both stories.]


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-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Hugh Grant in 2009. Jens Kalaene / European Pressphoto Agency