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."

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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.