Hugh Grant launches blistering attack on tabloid press

By Ian Dunt

Hugh Grant issued a withering attack on the tabloid press today, in a dramatic witness session for the Leveson inquiry.

As an alleged victim of phone-hacking and prominent campaigner on the issue, the actor criticised paparazzi, tabloid journalists and the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

In a range of aggressive comments, Mr Grant accused paparazzi of photographing up women's skirts and then digitally removing their underwear, chasing his female friends at high speeds while they had children in the car and hacking his voicemail.

He also told the inquiry into press conduct the mother of his child could not leave for her home for three days due to press attention.

The paparazzi were said to show "no mercy, no ethics", according to the celebrity, and the newspapers had continued to use the photographers despite promising not to after the death of Princess Diana.

At one point the testimony threatened to become acrimonious, after the QC said no-one knew how information about Mr Grant's medical records was obtained.

"No, maybe it was just a lucky guess," Mr Grant said sarcastically.

Discussing the PCC's failure to investigate some of his concerns, Mr Grant said: "If that isn't in the remit of the PCC, what is the PCC for?"

Asked to hand over his tape of a conversation with Paul McMullan, a tabloid journalist who revealed many details of phone-hacking to Mr Grant, the actor refused.

"I feel I did my revenge number on Paul McMullan," he said.

"For me that's the issue closed with him. I've had two separate police inquiries and they've asked for the tape and I've refused. That seems to me too harsh.

"I don't want to be sending Mr McMullan to prison. And he has to be given some credit for being a whistleblower on all this stuff."

Mr Grant also swiped away the suggestion that he had benefitted from positive press coverage in the past.

"I wasn't aware I traded on my good name," he said.

"I've never had a good name. I'm the man who was arrested with a prostitute and the film still made tonnes of money."

Defining the press' argument over its use of celebrity coverage, Mr Grant said: "You sold me your milk, you slut. I'm now entitled to help myself to your milk for ever."

The inquiry continues.