The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog


Hugh Grant at the Leveson Inquiry: The full evidence

The actor on press intimidation and intrusion.

Hugh Grant has expanded on claims that reporters subjected the mother of his child to 'harassing and frightening" behaviour in the days after the baby's birth.

The actor's full testimony to the Leveson inquiry into press standards has been published on its website, and can be downloaded in PDF form (parts one, two and supplementary evidence here).

In it, the actor claims that reporters obtained the mobile phone number of his American publicist - "a number she keeps famously private" as well as that of Tinglan Hong, the mother of his child. "In the end the calls and texts. . . became so persistent and disturbing, especially to a woman recovering from childbirth, that she was forced to change her number."

Grant added that several newspapers tried to find "dirt" on Tinglan Hong. "Articles appeared making snide remarks about her being an 'actress'. . . a mistake made by one of the papers early on, who confused her with a Chinese actress I had once met for about five minutes a year ago in China. But all the papers copied the mistake out faithfully as fact, and used it to imply that she was either a failed actress because the internet showed no credits for her, that she had false pretensions, or that the term was a gloss for something worse."

After setting out "ten myths of journalism", the actor also reflected on his treatment by the tabloid press after he wrote about hacking in the New Statesman in April.

Of one piece by Mail columnist Amanda Platell, he wrote: "in the space of one 1,300 word piece . . . she accused me of being lonely, bitter, oleaginous, misogynistic, self-obsessed, irresponsible, insensitive, uncaring and in 'tawdry, inexorable decline'".

In the course of his evidence, the actor focused several times on the behaviour of the Mail and Mail on Sunday, forcing both papers to issue denials of his claims -- first, that the Mail on Sunday could have used phone hacking for a story in 2007, and second that the Mail obtained the hospital records of Tinglan Hong.

Grant began his evidence by writing: "Growing up, if my brother or I happened to have bought a copy of the News of the World my mother would say, "How can you bring that filth into this house?" Then, after a pause: "After you with it." And I suppose that was my attitude to papers like the News of the World for the first 33 years of my life. It's probably the attitude of most people. (Or was, until July.) That they were a bit of largely harmless fun."

He concluded: "The tabloids talk a lot these days about freedom of expression. But criticism of themselves has never been allowed. That is why they have had so little of it for so long."