Hugh Grant Renews Call for End of U.K. Press Self-Regulation

Hugh Grant
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The actor, an alleged hacking victim, has become the frontman for an organization called Hacked Off, which demands more oversight of the U.K. media. At the group's kickoff event in July, he said, "Grotesque abuses have been allowed to continue because of the cowardice of our politicians."

The actor writes an article ahead of the publication of the Leveson Inquiry findings sparked by the News Corp. phone hacking scandal.

LONDON – Hugh Grant has renewed calls for the end of self-regulation of the press in the U.K. as the actor and the entire British media waits on tenterhooks for the publication of the final report of the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and standards.

Grant, a director of the Hacked Off campaign, a not-for-profit company that campaigns for press reform in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, has written an article for The Spectator defending his desire for the end of self-regulation. The final Leveson report, likely to come out in late November, is expected to provide suggestions for politicians how to regulate press issues in the future.

Grant has been embroiled in a battle with News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and its U.K. publishing division News International since the scandal began.

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In the Spectator piece, entitled "What I'm Fighting For," Grant claims he has no desire to be seen as a "muzzler" for the press and also said he'd shut down his lobby group if he "detected even a bat's squeak of genuine threat to public interest journalism."

Grant also said that he "hardly" wanted to be a moral arbiter.

"Rupert Murdoch recently called me a scumbag. Harsh, but I see where he’s coming from," Grant writes.

It's all grist for the mill pending Judge Brian Leveson's recommendations after leading the examination of press standards that heard evidence from Murdoch and son James Murdoch.

In the Spectator, Grant said the British press are "the Goliath," part of the establishment that has "effectively run the country for the past 40 years."

The actor said he would support Leveson if he were to recommend a new press regulator, independent of the industry and government, with minimum statutory underpinning.

"What I (and Hacked Off) campaign for is only this: that the press should obey the law and comply consistently with a fair and decent code of practice," he added.

"If we detected even a bat's squeak of genuine threat to public interest journalism we would pack it in. In fact, we also campaign for public interest defences in law for journalists in libel, bribery and other cases. We want more investigative journalism, not less. We want journalists to be free to speak their minds, unconstrained by their corporate masters. That's why we share platforms with the National Union of Journalists."