April 21, 2024

Hugh Grant has claimed The Sun ordered burglaries of his home and tapped his landline to get information about his personal life.

The actor, 62, attended the final day of a hearing at the High Court, at which News Group Newspapers (NGN) is bringing a bid to have claims by him and the Duke of Sussex thrown out.

Prince Harry is suing NGN over alleged unlawful information gathering at two of its titles, The Sun and the now-defunct News of the World, claiming that his private information was unlawfully accessed.

Mr Grant, who settled a claim against NGN relating to unlawful information gathering at the News of the World in 2012, is now bringing a similar legal action in relation to The Sun.

In a witness statement, Mr Grant said: “My claim concerns unlawful acts committed by The Sun, including burglaries to order, the breaking and entering of private property in order to obtain private information through bugging, landline tapping, phone hacking, and the use of private investigators to do all these and other illegal things against me.”

He referred in the statement to evidence he gave to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards and ethics in 2011, in which he spoke about a break-in at his London flat, where the front door was forced off its hinges. He said a story shortly after in The Sun “detailed the interior”.

He said: “I had no evidence that this burglary was carried out or commissioned on the instruction of the press, let alone The Sun.

The actor added that he had been told by a private investigator in early 2022, which prompted him to launch the claim against NGN.

In his witness statement, the actor says he brought his recent claim after being passed information which “showed, for the first time, evidence that The Sun had targeted unlawful activity at me and my associates directly”.

He said the information included private investigator invoices and payments, and that they included the period during which the Leveson Inquiry into press standards and ethics was taking place.

Mr Grant said in the statement: “It was particularly shocking to learn that me and my associates, including members of my family who were not in any way in the public eye, had been targeted by The Sun during the Leveson Inquiry.

“It was widely reported and well known at the time these private investigators were commissioned – in November 2011 – that I was shortly going to be giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry which included NGN.

“I found it astonishing that The Sun carried out these unlawful acts against me at a time when I was preparing to give evidence to a public inquiry on press ethics.

“Of course, all of this was concealed from me at the time.”

His statement concludes: “I have invested a great deal of time in my campaign work for a better and ethical press. A corollary of that has been my interest and my own investigations to understand the truth.

“I have been shocked by what I have unearthed, without any help at all from the defendant, about unlawful acts committed by The Sun against me.

“The fact that it has now been confirmed, through my investigations, that these unlawful acts included targeted burglaries is truly appalling.

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

“I strongly believe that cannot be allowed to happen and that what it has done must be brought to light.”

Mr Grant’s statement came as more evidence was heard in court over the alleged secret agreement between the royal family and NGN.

Emails about phone hacking allegations between executives from The Sun and senior staff in the royal family discuss “finding a resolution without lawyers”, the court heard.

In a 2017 email to the CEO of News Corporation, Robert Thomson, former director of royal communications Sally Osman said: “The fact that we can have this conversation, with the Queen’s full authority and knowledge of the scale and effect of hacking and surveillance on her family, their staff, associates, friends and family, is important with a view of resolution in the near future.”

However, in a March 2018 email, Ms Osman, seeking the arrangement of a meeting with Mr Thomson to discuss the matter said: “The hope is still to find a resolution, without involving lawyers. However, if we do not receive a response and a sense of what might be done and by when, then we will need to reconsider.”

David Sherborne, representing Prince Harry, said this is consistent with a secret agreement and shows “this wasn’t dealt with by the legal department, it was dealt with at a much higher level”.

NGN has previously settled a number of claims since the phone-hacking scandal broke in relation tothe News of the World, which closed in 2011, but has consistently denied that any unlawful information-gathering took place at The Sun.

The Sun strongly refutes the allegation that it ever commissioned anyone to break into Hugh Grant’s home,” a spokesperson told The Independent.

NGN has called for both claims to be thrown out, arguing they have been brought too late.

The judge is expected to give his ruling at a later date.