Hugh Grant settles privacy lawsuit against Murdoch's Sun tabloid

AFP

British actor Hugh Grant has settled a lawsuit against the publisher of Rupert Murdoch's tabloid newspaper, The Sun, over claims journalists used private investigators to tap his phone and burgle his house, he said on Wednesday.

Grant, alongside King Charles' son Prince Harry, was suing News Group Newspapers (NGN) for alleged widespread unlawful information gathering, including landline tapping, burglary and "blagging" confidential information about him.

Famous for films such as Love Actually, Paddington 2 and Notting Hill, Grant has become a prominent campaigner on press reform since the phone-hacking scandal emerged more than a decade ago, and had joined forces with Harry in recent years.

His case was one of several lawsuits which were eligible to go to trial at London's High Court in January, but the actor has agreed to settle with NGN, he said on X, shortly after the settlement was revealed in court documents for a procedural hearing on Wednesday.

Grant previously brought a lawsuit against NGN in relation to the now-defunct News of the World tabloid which was settled in 2012, a year after the newspaper was shut down by media magnate Murdoch following a public backlash over hacking.

NGN has always rejected allegations of any wrongdoing by staff at The Sun, having settled more than 1,300 cases – plus another 300 or so through its own compensation scheme – without making any admission of liability in relation to that paper.

However, the settlement of Grant's lawsuit, which focused exclusively on alleged wrongdoing at The Sun, raises questions about the sustainability of that long-held position. NGN declined to comment.

The settlement could also reduce the chances of NGN facing a trial over claims of unlawful information gathering for the first time – though Harry's lawsuit continues and the prince has spoken repeatedly of his "mission" to purge the British press.

Harry and other claimants last month sought to drag Murdoch into the case, alleging he was personally involved in a cover-up of wrongdoing, with a ruling on their application still pending.

NGN says the claimants are using the lawsuits as a means to attack the tabloid press and that allegations against current and former staff are "a scurrilous and cynical attack on their integrity".

On Wednesday, NGN's lawyer Anthony Hudson asked the court to direct that the full trial currently listed to begin in January should instead be held to decide whether the claimants should have brought their lawsuits against the publisher earlier.

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