A London court has dismissed attempts by The Sun tabloid’s publisher to have actor Hugh Grant’s lawsuit thrown out. Grant alleges that journalists and investigators hired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers engaged in illegal snooping on him. Justice Timothy Fancourt ruled that a trial would be necessary to determine whether unlawful information gathering took place, including phone tapping, car bugging, and home intrusion.
If Grant’s allegations are proven true during the scheduled trial in January 2024, they would expose significant and deliberate wrongdoing on a large scale at NGN. The judge noted attempts to conceal such misconduct through the destruction of evidence, public denials, lies to regulators, and threats against whistleblowers.
News Group had argued that Grant’s claims, along with Prince Harry’s, should be dismissed due to a six-year time limit. However, the ruling did not address Prince Harry’s case, as the judge awaits further details in July regarding allegations of a “secret agreement” between Buckingham Palace and News Group executives that allegedly delayed Harry’s phone hacking claims.
While Grant’s claims related to phone hacking were dismissed due to time limitations, the case will proceed on other allegations he became aware of in 2021 through private investigator Gavin Burrows, who disclosed alleged acts of phone tapping, bugging, and burglary on behalf of The Sun.
Grant described his astonishment upon learning about the intrusion into his premises, including a break-in and the placement of a tracking device in his car. The actor expressed his inability to identify the culprits who broke into his apartment in 2011, with The Sun subsequently publishing a story about the incident.
Prince Harry recently claimed that the royal family had agreed to out-of-court settlements with News Group following the News of the World phone hacking litigation. Harry alleged that the settlement, reportedly agreed to by Queen Elizabeth II, aimed to prevent the royals from testifying in court, with an apology being part of the deal.
News Group denies the existence of a “secret agreement,” and the palace has yet to respond to inquiries regarding the alleged settlement involving Prince William.
While Grant’s phone hacking allegations were dismissed, News Group stated that it strongly denies any historical allegations of unlawful information gathering mentioned in the remaining part of his claim.
Prince Harry has initiated three phone hacking suits against British tabloid publishers. Fancourt is currently hearing evidence against the publisher of the Daily Mirror, where Harry is expected to testify next month. Another judge is reviewing cases against the publisher of the Daily Mail brought by Prince Harry, Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley, and others to determine whether they should proceed to trial.