- ‘Notting Hill’ actor claims illegal acts at Sun
- Grant is suing the Murdoch group alongside Prince Harry
- Court says phone hacking allegations were made too late
- Further allegations will be tried in January 2024
LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) – British actor Hugh Grant’s claims that Sun reporters used private detectives to tap his phone and burglarize his home could lead to a trial, but his claims about the interception of voicemail was made too late, London High Court has ruled. Friday.
Grant, alongside King Charles’ son Prince Harry, is suing Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers (NGN) for large-scale illegal news gathering which he claims was carried out in the name of his tabloid, the Sun.
Judge Timothy Fancourt said in a written decision on Friday that Grant’s voicemail interception allegations – widely known as “phone hacking” – were outside a six-year window for legal action.
But the judge said the question of whether Grant’s allegations of “wiretapping, bugging, blogging, burglary and instructing private investigators to do any of those things” had been brought too late was to be decided in a trial due to take place in January 2024.
A spokesperson for NGN said the publisher was pleased that Grant’s phone-hacking claim against the Sun was dismissed by the court.
“NGN strongly denies the various historical allegations of unlawful information gathering contained in what remains of Mr. Grant’s claim,” the spokesperson added.
Grant said in a statement: “I am pleased that my case is allowed to go to trial, which I have always wanted – because there is a need for the truth to come to light about the activities of The Sun.
“As my case makes clear, the allegations go much deeper and deeper than the voicemail interception.”
NGN had also asked the judge to dismiss Harry’s case at a hearing in April, but a decision in his case is not expected until after a rehearing in July, during which Harry will ask permission to stand. press on an alleged “secret agreement” between Buckingham Palace and senior NGN officials.
CAMPAIGN FOR PRESS REFORM
Grant – famous for cinematic comedies such as ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Notting Hill’ – has become a prominent campaigner for press reform since the phone-hacking scandal emerged.
He previously filed a lawsuit against NGN over the now-defunct tabloid News of the World, which was settled in 2012.
His latest lawsuit alleged that Sun reporters used private investigators to tap his landline phone, place listening and tracking devices on his home and car, break into his property and deceive his private information.
NGN denies the allegations and its lawyers argued at the April hearing that it was “unreal” for Grant not to know enough to take legal action about the Sun sooner than he did.
Friday’s decision comes amid an ongoing trial over allegations of unlawful newsgathering made by Harry and others against Mirror Group Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People. MGN strongly denies the allegations.
Harry is due to testify in person in early June, the first British royal to do so since the 19th century.
Reporting by Sam Tobin and Michael Holden Editing by Alex Richardson and Frances Kerry
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