Grant marches into battle: I was hacked by Mail on Sunday

Evidence suggests practice went beyond News International

The publishers of the Mail on Sunday were thrust into the judicial blame game on phone hacking when the actor Hugh Grant told the Leveson Inquiry that key details about his life could only have been obtained by the paper illegally intercepting his voicemails.

Grant's wide-ranging assault on both Mail titles had been given to Associated Newspaper's lawyers last week in the form of the actor's full testimony. Jonathan Caplan, counsel for the Mail titles, had earlier challenged the agreed legal format of Lord Leveson's inquiry by demanding to cross-examine witnesses that were critical of his client.

Although the request was refused, it quickly became clear why Associated was worried. The Mail columnist Amanda Platell and a company PR executive who advises Associated were in court and hinted at anger inside the company that they would have to wait months before being allowed to respond.

With the News of the World regarded as the main culprit of hacking, Grant said that in February 2007 – just after Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire had been jailed – the Mail on Sunday printed a story about his failing relationship with the heiress Jemima Khan.

The article said his relationship was "on the rocks" and said a contributing factor was late-night calls he had with a "plummy voiced" studio executive from Warner Brothers. He called the story "bizarre" and "left field", but that during his preparations for the inquiry, the "penny dropped".

Details of the story were untrue, but he could not think who the source was.

However, he said he knew a Hollywood executive who had an English assistant, who was married and middle aged. "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 in the Khan story could only have been obtained by voicemail interception, he challenged Mr Caplan to come up with another explanation: "I would love to hear what they say this was, if it wasn't phone hacking."

A spokesman for the Mail on Sunday refuted the suggestion, and claimed the source of the story was "a freelance journalist who had been told by a source who was regularly speaking to Jemima Khan". He added: "Mr Grant's allegations are mendacious smears driven by his hatred of the media."

Grant claimed that when he was interviewed by Scotland Yard this year and shown pages from Mulcaire's notebooks, the names of the journalists who had commissioned the private eye had been redacted. Though these were later revealed as NOTW journalists, the stories linked to the commissions appeared not in the News International title, but in the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail. In what at times sounded like a sustained attack on the Mail, Grant said the Daily Mail knew the fake name that his pregnant girlfriend, Tin Lang Hong, had used to check into hospital to have their baby. He also repeated the accusation made last week by his counsel, David Sherborne, that when he appeared on Question Time, Ms Hong had received a threatening call which said: "Tell Hugh Grant to shut the fuck up."

His relationship with Ms Tong featured in a Daily Mail column. According to him, Amanda Platell "offered evidence as to why I should be loathed". He described the piece as a "hatchet job" and said that having paid £125,000 to a former lover for a picture of Ms Hong, the newspaper wanted more pictures of his new, German girlfriend.

Evidence of tabloid phone hacking also featured in the evidence of Graham Shear, a solicitor who has represented many celebrities and sports stars in privacy and defamation cases. He described how one of his clients was under siege from the media. Minutes before he expected his clients to arrive at his home, reporters and photographers appeared. He said that only an intercepted voicemail could have told them where his client was going.

The writer, Joan Smith, also claimed her voicemails were hacked while she was having an open relationship with former Europe minister, Denis McShane.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links