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LONDON – Hugh Grant blew open the phone-hacking investigation Monday, accusing The Mail on Sunday of listening to his mobile phone messages when he was dating Jemima Khan in 2007.
To date the Inquiry has heard allegations of hacking only relating to the News of The World, but the new allegations from Grant are the first on-the-record accusation that the issue of phone-hacking has gone wider than one newspaper group.
Grant looked apprehensive and cautious as he took the witness stand Monday afternoon at the Leveson Inquiry. But he became more clear – even strident – as he gave details of what appeared to be a large number of incursions into his privacy. Dressed in an immaculate dark blue suit and pale shirt, Grant gave his full name of Hugh John Mungo Grant as he took the oath.
Grant gave a litany of examples of press intrusion and said that paparazzi “showed no mercy and had no ethics” when they were following his ex-girlfriends, even endangering them when they had children in the car, and also in the case of the mother of his recently born baby daughter.
Grant said that he believed that The Mail on Sunday newspaper had hacked his phone after it had reported details of what the newspaper described as an affair with “a plummy-voiced English executive from Warner Brothers.”
Grant said that not only were the allegations untrue, but that he had had to “rack his brains” trying to work out what they related to.
Recently, while going through the history of “the trials and tribulations” of his history in the press, he said, “the penny dropped.”
Grant told the Inquiry into press ethics and behaviour that he believed the story arose from voice mail messages left on his phone by the assistant of an executive who worked at a production company affiliated to Warner Bros., and that the only way the newspaper could have known about the calls was if they had hacked his phone.
“I cannot think of any conceivable source for this story in The Mail on Sunday except those voice messages on my mobile telephone,” the actor said.
When asked by the Inquiry barrister whether his view might not be “speculation,” he replied: “speculation – yeah, OK. But I’d love to hear from [Daily Mail owners] Associated Newspapers what their source on that was if it wasn’t phone-hacking.
Grant also accused a number of other newspapers including The Sun and The Express of having “appropriated and printed for commercial profit” his private communications and having published his medical records.
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