Any hopes Elizabeth Hurley might have had to be left alone to face Hugh Grant when he returned to England after being arrested with a Los Angeles prostitute were rudely shattered yesterday.
As the massed ranks of journalists gathered outside their rented stone house near Bath, it emerged that the prostitute Divine Brown [real name Stella Marie Thompson] had sold the story of her two minute relationship with Mr Grant to the News of the World, which is thought to have paid her about pounds 100,000, the same amount the Sun offered on its "wanted" posters in Sunset Boulevard.
Mr Grant, 34, joined his girlfriend Miss Hurley at the house at West Littleton at around 1.30am yesterday after slipping quietly back into Britain.
Clues about the state of their relationship were drawn from the ominous delivery of a second double bed for the house. A spokesman from Bensons Bed Centre, Bristol, said Ms Hurley ordered it within hours of hearing of Mr Grant's arrest.
Miss Hurley, also phoned her mother Angela yesterday morning, who said afterwards: "She and Hugh are together... she told me she is doing just fine."
A few minutes after photographers sent a note into the house asking for the couple to pose for pictures, Mr Grant and Miss Hurley separately carried food into the garden where they sat for 10 minutes.
Miss Hurley appeared to be listening intently as he talked. One observer said: "They seemed to be much more at ease with each other."
Mr Grant, 34, star of the film Four Weddings and A Funeral, has now been formally charged with lewd conduct. Divine Brown has been charged with two additional counts of violating her probation on prostitution convictions. The case will be heard 18 July in Hollywood Municipal Court.
Mr Grant could face a maximum six-month sentence, although a fine and probation are more likely if he is convicted.