LONDON – Actor Hugh Grant has settled his phone hacking claim against Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid for a “substantial” but undisclosed sum of money, his lawyer said Friday.
Mark Thomson said that the “Notting Hill” star would donate cash from the settlement, as well as an additional payment, to media reform group Hacked Off, which is campaigning for stricter oversight of Britain’s scandal-tainted press.
Thomson said in a brief statement that Grant’s claims arose from “the unlawful activities of News of the World journalists and others over a number of years,” but didn’t go into any further detail.
Grant was one of the first celebrities to turn on Murdoch’s powerful tabloid as it emerged that journalists there had hacked the phones of people in the public eye, rifling through their private communications in search of stories.
The ensuing scandal rocked Murdoch’s media empire, leading to scores of arrests and resignations and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses from lawsuits and legal fees.
Murdoch was forced to close the News of the World amid an advertiser boycott, and his once-formidable influence over U.K. politics was dealt a body blow as politicians rushed to distance themselves from the tycoon’s U.K. newspaper company, News International.
Prime Minister David Cameron, two of whose closest confidants saw their careers crushed by the scandal, was pushed to set up a judge-led inquiry into media ethics, which in turn exposed a culture of bullying, bribery and blackmail across the U.K. press.
Grant was one of the inquiry’s first and most outspoken witnesses, testifying that a section of the British media had been “allowed to become toxic over the last 20 or 30 years.”
A spokeswoman for News International, an arm of the New York-based News Corp., declined comment. Thomson said a statement would be made before England’s High Court early in the new year.
Hacked Off: http://hackinginquiry.org/
Grant’s testimony at the inquiry: http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/evidence/?witness=hugh-grant