U.K.'s Channel 4 to Air Hugh Grant Documentary About Leveson Inquiry

Hugh Grant - Investigation Into The News Of The World Phone Hacking - H - 2011
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Amid criticism, the network says the program will be impartial and air around the time the inquiry's report on British media ethics and standards comes out.

LONDON – U.K. TV network Channel 4 will air a TV documentary about the Leveson Inquiry, which has looked into media ethics and standards here, that will be presented by Hugh Grant.

The actor has been known to be working on a Leveson project, but a Channel 4 representative on Wednesday said the network will show it around the time of the publication of the final Leveson report, currently expected to be late this month.

But the news that Channel 4 would show the program drew criticism from a conservative politician who British media quoted Wednesday as saying the documentary could be "loaded" and take sides in an ongoing debate about the future of media regulation in the U.K.

Channel 4 responded, saying that the program would comply with impartiality rules set by British media regulator Ofcom. The network said the documentary will be "impartial in line with Ofcom's broadcasting code."

Grant is the face of 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. The Leveson Inquiry included Grant on its witness roster.

"The film is an observational documentary following Hugh Grant and the Hacked Off campaign in the run-up to the publication of Lord Leveson’s report on his inquiry," Channel 4 said. "The film accompanies Grant as he meets key figures from different sides of the debate and those involved and interested in the Inquiry and explores the different views of what Lord Leveson’s recommendations might be."

British member of parliament Alun Cairns has reached out to Channel 4 CEO David Abraham, questioning how a program presented by Grant about the inquiry into press standards “will ever comply with Ofcom’s rules about impartiality.”

The Hacked Off campaign was founded by the Media Standards Trust (MST), which was until this week chaired by Roger Graef who is also the CEO of the production company behind the documentary, Films of Record.

Cairns has also sent a copy of his letter to Ofcom CEO Ed Richards, in which the MP notes he is “extremely concerned” about the program.

He outlined the connections between Grant, the production company and the MST, pointing out that the trust has “produced a series of recommendations for a system of statutory regulation of the press, which Hacked Off and Hugh Grant support.”

Cairns wrote: “The celebrity spokesman of Hacked Off making the case for the implementation of the MST’s proposals is none other than Hugh Grant – the chosen celebrity presenter of the program."