Saturday 20 January 2018

Hugh Grant: "I suspect newspaper broke into my flat after Hollywood lewd act’

HUGH Grant suggested today that a newspaper may have broken into his flat after he was caught with a prostitute in Hollywood.

The About a Boy star said he had "no quarrel" with the media for the coverage of his arrest for a "lewd act" on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles in 1995.

But he told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards that he had suspicions about an expert burglary at his fourth-floor flat in London shortly afterwards in which nothing was stolen.

Grant, who was in a relationship with Liz Hurley at the time, recalled: "The day after that a detailed account of what the interior of my flat looked like appeared in one of the British tabloid papers."

He added: "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," he said.

"It was four floors up and they could 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."

Grant told the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London he was happy to discuss his arrest by the Los Angeles Police Department over his encounter with prostitute Divine Brown.

Counsel to the inquiry, Robert Jay QC, said: "I'm not going to cover the events of July 1995. We are not interested in that."

Grant replied: "I wish you would in a way. 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 I was arrested, it was on public record. I totally expected there to be tons of press, the press storm that happened. I have no quarrel with it, no quarrel whatsoever."

The actor told the inquiry that press coverage of him was initially favourable after he appeared in 1994's hit Four Weddings and a Funeral.

"It was fairly brief, but of course on the back of that success of Four Weddings and a Funeral, there was a spirit of goodwill," he said.

"I think the nation liked having a film that was popular and funny and doing very well all over the world.

"We enjoy the few British cinema successes we get, and I got a little blip of positive press on the back of it."

He recalled that there was suddenly a "great deal of interest" in his private life after he attended the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral with Hurley, who famously wore a Versace dress held together with giant safety pins.

Grant also said that he and girlfriends have been "chased at speed" by paparazzi.

He said there were two kinds of photographers - staff at newspapers who show a "modicum of decency" but still camped outside the house of the mother of his baby Tinglan Hong. "They staked out a new mother for three days," he said.

He also spoke of commissioned photographers who have "no mercy and no ethics".

"I suspect they were the ones following Princess Diana when she died," he added.

The actor also described an encounter with a former News of the World employee, Paul McMullan, who told him that hacking had been "extensive" at the defunct paper.

He initially met the former features editor one winter in Kent when his car had broken down. McMullan gave him a lift to an appointment.

"I was suddenly in the car with this man," Grant said. "He went on to tell me of extensive phone hacking at the News of the World, how Andy Coulson had known about it, the competitive sycophancy of five successive governments and how they paid off the police."

Grant did not have a Dictaphone at the time but recorded his next meeting with McMullan, he said.

Press Association

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