Hugh Grant has speculated over the source of a 2007 story on his private life in the Mail on Sunday, claiming it was obtained by phone hacking.
Giving evidence at the Leveson inquiry into press standards earlier today, the actor seemed to make a concerted effort to broaden the focus of attention from News International to other newspapers.
Grant referred to a piece claiming his relationship with Jemima Khan was on the rocks because of his late-night phone conversations with a “plummy voiced studio executive from Warner Brothers”.
He subsequently realised that he had been having phone conversations with a friend who worked at a film studio in Los Angeles with a “plummy voice”. Because of the time difference, she had left him answer phone messages late at night.
He told the inquiry: “I would love to know what the Mail‘s explanation or source was, if it wasn’t from phone-hacking.” The counsel to the inquiry, Robert Jay QC, said that his claim was merely speculation.
Grant also spoke about the injunction obtained by the mother of his baby, Ting Lan Hong. He said that although he had been pilloried in the press for being a “bad father” and not being present at the birth, he had in fact made the decision to stay away because he feared bringing down a “press storm” on her. He said that her parents, and a female cousin of his, were present.
When he visited Ting Lan Hong in hospital, Grant said that he received a call from a Daily Mail reporter, saying that the paper was ready to publish a story about the child (which the Mail eventually did in November, once a magazine in the US had broken it). “On the day afterwards, I couldn’t resist a quick visit. But the day after the phone calls started. The Daily Mail rang saying ‘we know about Ting Lan’,” he told the inquiry.
Grant added that one of the Mail journalists working on the story had previously worked at News of the World.
In November, two articles about Grant and his child appeared in the Mail under the byline of Keith Gladdis. Until June this year, Gladdis wrote for the News of the World. It is not yet confirmed whether Gladdis is the reporter who phoned Hugh Grant.
A statement from the Mail on Sunday said the newspaper rejected the allegations, adding: “Mr Grant’s allegations are mendacious smears driven by his hatred of the media.”