A London court on Friday dismissed an attempt by the publisher of the tabloid The Sun to drop a lawsuit filed by actor Hugh Grant, alleging journalists and investigators hired by the company illegally spied on him.
Judge Timothy Fancourt will have to decide whether Rupert Murdoch’s newsgroup newspaper company tapped Grant’s home phone, tapped his car, broke into his home, and otherwise illegally collected information. said.
“If true, and will be the subject of a trial scheduled to take place in January 2024, these allegations show that very serious and willful misconduct in the NGN was systematically carried out on a large scale. It will prove,” Fancourt wrote. “Of particular relevance is … concealment and destruction of relevant documentary evidence, repeated public denials, lies to regulators and authorities, and unjustifiable actions against those who dare to make charges or notify of willful claims. It will establish a coordinated effort to cover up wrongdoing, such as through intimidation,” Sun. “
At a public hearing last month, the newsgroup argued that allegations of illegal intelligence gathering by Grant and Prince Harry had not been raised within the six-year deadline and should be dismissed.
The ruling did not address the Duke of Sussex’s case. The judge wants to hear more about Prince Harry’s allegations that a “secret deal” between Buckingham Palace and the news prevented him from filing a phone-hacking suit sooner at a hearing in July. group executive.
The judge dismissed Grant’s phone hacking allegations on the grounds of time limits, and Grant, who has played a key role in the press reform group Hacked Off, is fully aware of the voicemail interception scandal, and has said more He said he could have made such a claim sooner.
Grant previously settled a phone hacking case with the newsgroup’s former publication, News of the World. In 2011, at the height of the hacking scandal, the newspaper revealed that the tabloid had intercepted voicemails of celebrities, athletes, politicians and members of the royal family, as well as voicemails of a murdered girl. Discontinued.
The newsgroup claimed there was no illegal information gathering at The Sun.
But the judge could pursue other charges, which the actor said he only learned about in 2021 after private investigator Gavin Burroughs began publicizing charges of wiretapping, wiretapping and robbery on behalf of the Times. said to be sexual.
“In addition to hacking my cell phone and tapping my landline,[Burrows]also found out that my property had been robbed by people who work for The Sun and that my car had a tracking device. I was aware,” Grant said in a witness statement. “I thought this was amazing.”
Grant said he never managed to get the culprits who broke into his fourth-floor apartment in 2011 together. The door had been forced open on its hinges, and although there appeared to be a struggle inside, nothing was missing. Two days later, The Sun published an article detailing the interior and “signs of domestic turmoil”.
Prince Harry claimed last month that the royal family had agreed to settle its case with the newsgroup out of court after the phone hacking lawsuit against The News of the World ended. He said the deal, which his grandmother, the late Queen Elizabeth, allegedly agreed to, was intended to prevent the royal family from testifying in court. He said the deal called for an apology.
In court documents, Prince Harry said he was frustrated by the lack of settlement and filed a lawsuit in 2019 against the wishes of his father, the current King Charles III. He said his brother Prince William, the heir to the throne, has since received a “massive” settlement for phone hacking charges against newsgroups.
NGN denies there was a “secret deal”. The palace did not respond to messages seeking comment on the matter or the alleged settlement with Prince William.
A spokesperson for the newsgroup issued a statement Friday saying it was pleased the court had dismissed Grant’s phone hacking charges.
“NGN strongly denies the various historical allegations of illegal intelligence gathering contained in Mr. Grant’s allegations,” the statement said.
Harry’s lawsuit against the newsgroup is one of three phone-hacking lawsuits he has filed against British tabloid publishers.
Fancourt is currently conducting an evidence trial against Harry and three other attorneys against the Daily Mirror publisher for alleged illegal information gathering practices dating back to the 1990s. Prince Harry is scheduled to testify in the case next month.
A separate judge is now considering whether to hear a lawsuit filed against the Daily Mail publisher by the Duke, Elton John and actor and model Elizabeth Hurley.