The publisher of the Mail on Sunday yesterday denied Hugh Grant's allegations at the Leveson Inquiry that key details obtained by the paper about his personal life could only have been obtained by the illegal interception of his voicemails.
Grant's wide-ranging assault on both Daily Mail titles had been given to Associated Newspapers' lawyers last week in the form of the actor's full testimony. Jonathan Caplan, counsel for the papers, had earlier challenged the agreed legal format of Lord Leveson's inquiry by demanding to cross-examine witnesses.
Although the request was refused, it quickly became clear why Associated was worried. Grant told the inquiry that in February 2007 – just after Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire were jailed – the Mail on Sunday printed a story about his failing relationship with the heiress Jemima Khan.
The article said the relationship was "on the rocks" and that a contributing factor was late night calls he had had with a "plummy voiced" studio executive from Warner Brothers.
Grant said "the penny dropped" later: he knew an English assistant to a Hollywood executive. "She used to call me – late – and talk about English stuff: Marmite, whatever. Her voice could only be described as 'plummy'."
Stating that the information could only have been obtained by voicemail interception, he challenged Mr Caplan to come up with another explanation.