View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Media Law
May 30, 2023

Hugh Grant unlawful information gathering claims against Sun to be heard at trial

The trial is due to take place in January 2024.

By PA Media

Actor Hugh Grant’s claim against the publisher of The Sun over alleged unlawful information gathering will go ahead to a trial.

Grant, 62, is bringing legal action alleging he was targeted by journalists and private investigators against News Group Newspapers (NGN) in relation to The Sun, having previously settled a claim with the publisher in 2012 relating to the News Of The World.

NGN, which denies any unlawful activity took place at The Sun, brought a bid to have both Grant’s claim and a similar claim by the Duke of Sussex thrown out at a hearing in London last month, arguing that both men had left it too late to file their claims.

But in a ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Fancourt concluded Grant’s claim could proceed to trial – except for any allegations relating to phone hacking.

The judge found that Grant could have brought a claim for phone hacking sooner, as he had knowledge of it, but that his other allegations will have to be tried.

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

He said: “It was only on seeing invoices disclosed in NGN’s generic disclosure in 2021 that Mr Grant believed that private investigators (PIs) had been instructed by The Sun to target him in various ways, particularly in 2011.

Content from our partners
<a></a>Key ways to futureproof your media career as journalism job cuts bite deep
Slow online ads cost UK publishers £50m a year: Here's how to fix them
Mather Economics and InsurAds combine to help publishers boost revenue

“Although Mr Grant was aware prior to March 2016 of general allegations about use of PIs to obtain information, there is in my judgment a realistic chance that Mr Grant may establish at trial that, although he was aware of general allegations and was suspicious, he could not reasonably have believed with sufficient confidence that he may have been targeted by PIs instructed by The Sun in some of the relevant ways.

“Sufficient knowledge or belief that NGN’s denials of phone-hacking were false does not necessarily mean that Mr Grant believed at that time that NGN had used different methods of UIG targeted at him. That issue will have to be tried.”

A ruling on whether Harry’s claim can go ahead will be published later in the year, following a July hearing on whether his case can be amended to include his allegations there was a “secret agreement” between the royal family and senior executives working for NGN proprietor Rupert Murdoch.

Grant, who attended court for some of last month’s hearing, alleges among other things that he was targeted using “burglaries to order”.

In a witness statement, the Love Actually star 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 and a story appeared shortly afterwards in The Sun that “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 his claim.

In his 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.

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

A spokesperson for NGN said: “News Group Newspapers [NGN] is pleased that, following our application, the High Court has ruled that Mr Grant is statute barred from bringing a phone hacking claim against The Sun.

“The remainder of his claim, which has been brought following a statement made by Mr Gavin Burrows in 2021, has been allowed to proceed to trial.

“NGN strongly denies the various historical allegations of unlawful information gathering contained in what remains of Mr Grant’s claim.”

In a statement issued by his lawyers at law firm Gunnercooke, Grant said: “I am pleased that my case will be allowed to go to trial, which is what I have always wanted – because it is necessary that the truth comes out about the activities of The Sun.

“As my case makes clear, the allegations go far wider and deeper than voicemail interception.”

The trial is due to take place in January next year.

Topics in this article : ,

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network