Hugh Grant Says 'Huge' Blunder Led to BBC Crisis
The actor lauds the broadcaster for making personnel changes, but criticizes U.K. newspapers, which he wants to be regulated by an independent body.
LONDON – Hugh Grant late Monday called the BBC crisis that led to the weekend resignation of director general George Entwistle "a huge cock up," or blunder.
Grant, appearing late Tuesday night on commercial broadcaster ITV1's The Agenda, a nightly news discussion show, said the misstep by BBC news flagship Newsnight, which wrongly implicated a politician in a child abuse scandal, was "a terrible thing."
Grant noted, however, the difference between the BBC's reaction and that of U.K. newspapers when they have been accused of slander in recent years. "What interests me is the difference in the reaction of the BBC to this cock-up in the sense that everyone starts resigning - the director general resigns, people are stood down or stood aside, editors of Newsnight everywhere committing suicide," Grant said.
As the public face and a director of the Hacked Off campaign, a not-for-profit group that has been campaigning for press reform in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, Grant argued that U.K. newspapers didn't make big personnel changes after slandering various people in recent years. The actor said in those instances "there was no resignations, there was no recriminations, there was no firings, there was no discipline anywhere."
Grant is hoping that the upcoming final report from the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and standards will include at the very least a recommendation that the government needs to play a role in regulating the U.K. press, which has been using a system of self-regulation.
The Agenda host and ITV News political editor Tom Bradby introduced Grant as "probably one of the biggest British movie stars of the last two decades."