June 6, 2023

The Sun used “ordered break-ins” and “burglary” to obtain private information through “eavesdropping, wiretapping and phone hacking,” Hugh Grant alleged in court.

The 62-year-old actor made the allegations in a testimony read as part of his lawsuit against News Group Newspapers (NGN) – the publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World.

The British star attended the final day of a hearing in London’s High Court where NGN is making a bid to get claims from him and Prince Harry kicked out.

The Duke of Sussex, 38, is suing NGN over alleged unlawful information gathering at the two titles.

Prince Harry

Grant settled a claim against NGN regarding unlawful information gathering at the News Of The World in 2012 and is now filing a similar lawsuit related to The Sun.

NGN shut down News Of The World in 2011 in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, but denies any unlawful activity at The Sun.

In a testimonial, the Love Actually star said: “My claim relates to unlawful acts committed by The Sun, including warranted burglaries, breaking into and entering private property to obtain private information through eavesdropping, eavesdropping on landlines, phone hacking and using private investigators to do all these and other illegal things against me.”

In the statement, he referred to evidence he had provided during the 2011 Leveson inquiry into press standards and ethics, in which he spoke of a break-in at his London flat.

Grant claimed the front door had been forced off its hinges and a story appeared in The Sun shortly after that “describes the interior in detail”.

He said: “I had no evidence that this burglary was carried out or ordered by the press, let alone The Sun.”

Hugh Grant

The actor added that he had been told by a private investigator in early 2022 and that he had been “shown evidence for the first time that The Sun had directed unlawful activity directly at me and my associates”, prompting him to file his claim.

He said the information included invoices and payments from private investigators, and that they included the time period of the Leveson investigation into press standards and ethics.

Grant said in the statement: “It was deeply shocking to learn that I and my associates, including members of my family who were in no way in the public eye, had been targeted by The Sun during the Leveson investigation.

“I was amazed that The Sun carried out these unlawful acts against me at a time when I was preparing to testify before a public inquiry into press ethics.”

Read more:
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He added: “I am appalled by what I have dug up, without any assistance from the defendant, about wrongful acts committed against me by The Sun.

“The defendant clearly considers himself above the law and is now using the law in a way that I believe was never intended, which is to further cover up and conceal what he has done.

“I am convinced that this should not happen and that what it has done must be brought to light.”

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NGN’s lawyers argue that Grant, a prominent press ethics campaigner as a member of the Hacked Off group, should have known he had a claim involving The Sun much earlier and left it too late to final legal action.

NGN has previously settled a number of claims since the phone hacking scandal broke in connection with The News Of The World.

Anthony Hudson KC, on behalf of NGN, told the court on Tuesday that Prince Harry and Grant were “front and center” in claims against the publisher for hacking and therefore probably could not have realized that they had filed a potential damages claim much earlier.

The hearing is expected to conclude on Thursday and Mr Justice Fancourt will determine whether their claims will proceed to trial, which will be heard in January next year.

The judge is expected to rule later.