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Hugh Grant: UK Officials Must Crack Down On Tabloid “Privacy Invasion Industry”

Actor Hugh Grant called on UK lawmakers to regulate news organizations that he says frequently use unethical tactics to violate the privacy of celebrities like him — and ordinary people who unwittingly find themselves in the public spotlight. There’s “almost no journalism now” in Britain’s tabloid press – which he called the “privacy invasion industry” in testimony to the Leveson Inquiry which is looking at the News Of The World phone hacking scandal and the country’s press culture. “It’s almost never (about the) public interest,” he says. “There has been a section of our press that has been allowed to become toxic (using) bullying, intimidation, and blackmail….It’s time this country found the courage to stand up to this bullying.” Although it’s “a lovely idea” to let news organizations regulate themselves, it “absolutely has been shown not to work. ..This is the big opportunity now, this inquiry.” And it need not result in censorship of legitimate news or opinion, he says: “I don’t think it is that difficult to tell what is bath water and what is a baby. To most people it is pretty obvious.”

Grant said it’s “a big myth” that actors benefit from tabloid publicity. “In 17 years I’ve only given two interviews in the British press.” He says that he hires publicists in the U.S. when he has a new film, but “they’re like anti-publicists.” Studios “will be desperate for you to do everything” and Read More »

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Murdoch Apology Was “Tense” But “Sincere” – Murdered Schoolgirl’s Family Tells UK Inquiry

The parents of Milly Dowler told a UK inquiry into the News Of The World hacking scandal this morning that the family admonished Rupert Murdoch to “set things right” in July when he visited to apologize for the tabloid’s actions after their daughter was missing in 2002 and later found murdered. The paper had hacked into the 13-year-old’s cell phone and deleted voicemail messages, giving the Dowlers false hope. ”She’s picked up her voice mails Bob, she’s alive,” the girl’s mother, Sally Dowler, told her husband at the time she said in an appearance before the Leveson Inquiry. As the family and others waited to learn the girl’s fate she said that she “had to be on guard outside your front door” because reporters ”would come up to you when least expect it. They’d fire a question at you without introducing themselves.” She added that Murdoch was “very sincere” in his apology. But her daughter Gemma told him that she hoped he would use the scandal “as an opportunity to put things right in the future and have some decent standards and adhere to them.” Milly’s father, Bob Dowler, urged Murdoch’s News International and other media companies to “look very carefully at how they procure and how they maintain information about stories.” Sally Dowler said that she didn’t sleep for three nights after police told her that Milly’s phone had been hacked. Last month Murdoch agreed to pay the family $3.2M, and donate … Read More »

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Hugh Grant And J.K. Rowling To Join Other Celebs Testifying About News Corp Scandal

This will be another bad week for James Murdoch and News Corp as 21 witnesses including several celebs line up to tell a government inquiry how overzealous and unethical reporters turned their lives upside down. The investigation is led by Lord Justice Leveson who Prime Minister David Cameron asked to examine both the phone hacking at News Of The World, and problems with the country’s press culture. The parents of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old who was murdered in 2002,  will kick things off tomorrow. The NOTW scandal broke open this past July when it was disclosed that after Dowler was missing the tabloid hacked into the girl’s phone and deleted messages, giving her parents false hope that she might still be alive. Grant will follow them, and is expected to continue his assault on reporting tactics used by NOTW and the Daily Mail. Also due on Monday is the lawyer for actor Jude Law. On Tuesday the panel will hear from actor Steve Coogan and soccer star Garry Flitcroft. On Thursday Harry Potter author Rowling and one time Formula One chief Max Mosley will testify. Next Monday singer Charlotte Church and UK TV personality Anne Diamond will appear.

Coogan outlined his views in a biting commentary he wrote for The Guardian on Friday. “No amount of respectable, well-modulated management-speak from James Murdoch can disguise the direct link between Read More »

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Celebs Fight Murdochs Over Newspaper Phone Hacking

Hollywood isn’t famous for courage — especially when it means standing up to someone as powerful as Rupert Murdoch who owns one of the biggest movie and television companies. So it’ll be interesting to see how far actors Jude Law and Hugh Grant take their lawsuits charging that Murdoch papers hacked their phone conversations. There’ve been a few developments this week in those cases: The FBI plans to talk to Law about his suit last week alleging that News Of The World based a 2003 story about the actor on hacked phone messages, the BBC reports. The matter could go to U.S. courts because Law says the paper listened to mobile phone messages between him and an assistant made on a domestic network while both were at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport. Last month Law’s former girlfriend, Sienna Miller, accepted a $164,000 settlement from NOTW from a different claim that the paper had hacked her phone. Law says that the problems at Murdoch’s newspaper empire weren’t limited to NOTW: Last month he sued the Sun for violating his privacy, alleging that it based four stories in 2005 and 2006 on his secret phone messages. The Sun fired back that Law’s charges are ”deeply cynical and deliberately mischievous” adding that the paper’s investigation found that Law’s claims “have no foundation whatsoever.” That case will go … Read More »

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Hugh Grant Turns Tables On UK Journo Phone Hacker

Mike Fleming

Hugh Grant, one of the many celebrities whose phone conversations were tapped and used for UK tabloid fodder, turned the tables. He secretly taped a former journalist from News of the World who tailed him when his car broke down, and then gave Grant a ride after snapping pictures. During the trip, the journo detailed how the recordings were secured and who was involved. Grant went the journalist route, transcribing the dialogue in an article he wrote for The Statesman. I’m told that it’s all legit, and it’s certainly worth a peek.

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