Simon Carr: The Steve, Hugh and Max show: I spy a new sitcom...

Sketch: Grant has a future in politics, if he cared to consider it

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The Independent Online

They're definitely working up to something on the Privacy and Injunctions committee. They called on their witnesses "Steve", "Hugh", "Max" and "Zac" to give evidence. I don't recall them calling Dacre, McMullan or Staines "Paul".  It's  a conspiracy in the making.  You can feel them gathering the evidence for a new, statutory body to regulate the press.

Mind you, the evidence is such that I can't help agreeing with them. Until, that is, the next set of journalists' evidence - essentially, I agree with what the last witness said.

With Zac Goldsmith, Hugh Grant and Max Moseley at the table, Steve Coogan was the only civilian. He can study the tape if he needs a new comic character. The flowing hermit's hair isn't essential, but his listening look with bunched lips and intelligent frown - there's a sit-com in development right there.

Hugh Grant's run continues. He does Hugh Grant so well. He has made his case so often he must be tired of hearing it but there's always something new for us. We knew his girlfriend had been chased and her mother nearly run down by a paparazzo's car - but he revealed he's been arrested twice for violence against paparazzi, and that they scored every inch of his car with a Stanley knife.

He also goaded Steve Coogan into naming the PR company that advised cowardice in the face of tabloid aggression. "You have to name them now," Grant said. It was Freud Communications. "Why? Why's that relevant?" Because they are "the little helpers to News international." The eponymous Freud being married to Rupert Murdoch's daughter. "Ah ha," Coogan warbled, and then, blenching slightly: "It's more complicated than that." That and the listening look - it's an elevator pitch.

Grant is also implementing a very respectable media strategy - speaking on behalf of "the vulnerable" (ordinary people), and suggesting that his proposals would help papers fight life-threatening libel cases. He has a future in politics, if he ever cared to consider it.

Apologies are no use in an offence against privacy, Max Moseley said. A Screws front-page apology "Sorry, this was actually a private orgy" wouldn't have been much of a remedy. Further apologies on pages 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

He also thought exemplary fines would be preferable to a new regulatory body. Easy to agree with that too.