The Memo: Hugh Grant settles phone hacking claim against The Sun

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Hugh Grant settles phone hacking claim against The Sun

Emily Dunham - 13 May 2024

Whilst the younger generation may know him for his roles in films such as Wonka and Paddington 2, many of us know Hugh Grant for his starring roles in classic rom coms such as Love Actually, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones’s Diary. However, the actor is also pretty well-known for speaking up about holding newspaper publishers responsible for unethical actions ever since the 2011 phone hacking scandal that led to the closure of News of the World. His most recent claims have been made against The Sun, which is owned by Richard Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers. He has accused them of hacking and bugging his phone, tapping his landline, gathering information illegally and burgling his flat and office. The case was due to go to trial in early 2025 alongside similar cases brought about by high-profile individuals including Prince Harry and Labour peer Doreen Lawrence. 

But, before the case made it to the courts, Grant settled the claim, which may seem surprising given that he’s been so vocal on supporting celebrities’ rights to privacy. However, the decision was all to do with the rules around civil litigation in English courts. To sum it up, when damages awarded to a successful claimant are lower than the settlement offered by the defendant, the claimant may have to cover the legal costs of both sides. This prompted Grant to settle as, according to a post he made on X, he would “still be liable for something approaching £10m in costs” even if every allegation is proven in court. Whilst the settlement amount has not been released, Grant has simply described it as an enormous sum of money. Essentially, this shows that Grant’s lawyers believe that the settlement offered by the defendant will exceed any possible damagethat would be awarded by the court if successful at trial. 

Grant has said that this settlement money will now go towards groups campaigning for press reform, such as Hacked Off, and that he will continue to fight for a free press “that does not distort the truth, abuse ordinary members of the public, or hold elected MPs to ransom in pursuit of newspaper barons’ personal profits and political power.” But, with 42 outstanding claims against News Group Newspapers, and some due to be heard at trial in January 2025, the Sun’s legal troubles certainly won’t end here.