Hugh Grant settles privacy case against Sun publisher (2024)

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  • Phone-hacking scandal

Hugh Grant settles privacy case against Sun publisher (1)Image source, Reuters

By Steven McIntosh

Entertainment reporter

Actor Hugh Grant has settled a privacy case against the publisher of the Sun newspaper, saying he could have faced a bill of up to £10m even if he had won.

The star was suing News Group Newspapers (NGN), claiming journalists had used private investigators to tap his phone and burgle his house.

He said he "did not want to accept" the "enormous sum of money" he had been offered to settle - but that a trial was likely to prove "very expensive".

NGN denied the claims against it.

The company said the out-of-court settlement was reached "without admission of liability" and that it was "in both parties financial interests not to progress to a costly trial".

Money to be 'repurposed'

"I would love to see all the allegations that they deny tested in court," he wrote.

"But the rules around civil litigation mean that if I proceed to trial and the court awards me damages that are even a penny less than the settlement offer, I would have to pay the legal costs of both sides.

"My lawyers tell me that that is exactly what would most likely happen here. Rupert Murdoch's lawyers are very expensive. So even if every allegation is proven in court, I would still be liable for something approaching £10 million in costs. I'm afraid I am shying at that fence."

The actor added the money had a "stink" about it, and therefore the funds he has received will be "repurposed via groups like Hacked Off into the general campaign to expose the worst excesses of our oligarch-owned press".

'Avoiding accountability'

Campaign group Hacked Off said: "The allegations of burglaries and theft which formed Mr Grant's claim are devastating. Yet again, rather than see them tested in court, News UK have done everything to avoid facing accountability."

Grant's was one of several cases that were eligible to go to trial at London's High Court in January.

The actor, alongside the Duke of Sussex, was suing NGN for alleged widespread unlawful information gathering. Prince Harry is continuing his legal battle with the company.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Media Show, Jake Kanter from media news website Deadline said the settlement was "a surprise for some", adding that Grant had "been a thorn in the side of the British tabloids for well over a decade now".

"And there's been a thought that Prince Harry, who's been taking legal action against the newspapers, has emboldened others to the same, and he [Grant] is part of that process."

Kanter added that Grant's settlement "could be a blow to the proceedings" if Harry's legal team go to trial in January.

Legal reasons to settle

Tamsin Allen, head of media and information law at Bindmans, said the loser usually pays the winner's costs, but a rule designed to encourage settlements before trial can change this.

"Costs almost always exceed damages, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of pounds," she told the PA Media news agency. "So instead of receiving damages, the winner can find themselves paying out enormous sums to their beaten opponent."

Although the amount hasn't been revealed, Grant appears to have been offered "much more" money to settle than he would have been likely to have won at a trial, legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg told Radio 4's PM programme.

"The courts don't want people to waste their time by going to court and suing for something that they've already been offered," he said.

Going to trial would "cost a fortune", he said. "And unless you happen to have a fortune and are prepared to lose a fortune, it simply wouldn't be worth it, even if the costs were in some way restricted."

Phone hacking fallout

Grant is best known for films such as Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually and Paddington 2, and has also been a prominent campaigner on press reform since the phone-hacking scandal emerged more than a decade ago.

He previously brought a case against NGN in relation to the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, which was settled in 2012.

That came a year after the newspaper was shut down by media mogul Murdoch following a public backlash to hacking revelations.

NGN has rejected allegations of wrongdoing by staff at the Sun, and has settled more than 1,000 cases without making any admission of liability.

Other celebrities to have previously settled cases include actress Sienna Miller, former footballer Paul Gascoigne, comedian Catherine Tate, radio presenter Chris Moyles and Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm.

Anthony Hudson KC, representing NGN, told Wednesday's hearing there were "currently 42 extant claims... that follows the recent settlement of Mr Grant's claim".

'Commercial sense'

In a statement, a NGN spokesperson said: "In 2011, an unreserved apology was made by NGN to victims of voicemail interception by the News of the World. Since then, NGN has been paying financial damages to those with proper claims.

"As we reach the tail end of litigation, NGN is drawing a line under disputed matters, some of which date back more than 20 years ago. In some cases, it has made commercial sense for both parties to come to a settlement agreement before trial to bring a resolution to the matter.

"There are a number of disputed claims still going through the civil courts some of which seek to involve The Sun. The Sun does not accept liability or make any admissions to the allegations.

"A judge recently ruled that parts of Mr Grant's claim were out of time and we have reached agreement to settle the remainder of the case. This has been done without admission of liability. It is in both parties financial interests not to progress to a costly trial."

Related Topics

  • Media
  • Hugh Grant
  • UK newspapers
  • Phone-hacking scandal

More on this story

  • Hugh Grant gets court go-ahead to sue Sun publisher

    • Published

      26 May 2023

  • Grant accuses Sun publisher of 'false denials'

    • Published

      27 April 2023

Hugh Grant settles privacy case against Sun publisher (2024)


Hugh Grant settles privacy case against Sun publisher? ›

He had claimed that The Sun had employed private investigators to tap his phone in 2011. In May 2023, it was ruled that Grant's case was eligible to go to trial, barring the phone-hacking allegations. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Does Hugh Grant have a wife? ›

Did Hugh Grant go to Eton? ›

Grant did not go to Eton, but as shorthand for "charming public schoolboy" it is second to none.

Was Hugh Grant married to Elizabeth Hurley? ›

Elizabeth Hurley

The British actress dated Grant from 1987 to 2000. They were known as one of the “it couples” of the 1990s until he cheated in 1995. While the duo overcame the cheating scandal, they officially broke up in 2000.

What is the age gap between Hugh Grant and his wife? ›

What is the age difference between Hugh Grant and his wife? The couple appears to have a 23-year age gap. Per British media, Hugh Grant is currently 63 and Eberstein is thought to be around 40-years-old.

How many baby mamas does Hugh Grant have? ›

Over the span of eight years, the Notting Hill actor welcomed five children with actress Tinglan Hong and his now-wife Anna Eberstein. Though Grant has kept his kids out of the public eye, he has occasionally discussed his family life.


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