4 Oct 2011

Hugh Grant hacked off at meeting with the PM

Hugh Grant tells Channel 4 News he “doesn’t buy” the prime minister’s tough line on the media, and is looking for genuine reform in the wake of phone hacking scandal.

Talking to Jon Snow ahead of his first meeting with the prime minister on the phone hacking scandal, Hugh Grant said he will ask the PM why the Conservatives “got into bed with Rupert Murdoch“.

“Was it naivity, or reluctant pragmatism, or worse – pragmatism? Is it because the prime minister was weaned on spin?,” Mr Grant said.

David Cameron told Jon Snow earlier today that he talks to all media proprietors from time to time, adding: “I wish I didn’t tave to talk to the media.”

But Mr Grant was unconvinced. “I don’t buy that,” he told Channel 4 News. “His whole history is as a spin doctor – to say that the media is not his cup of tea doesn’t ring true.”

Hiding behind coat tails

The actor said he was irritated by journalists making the issue of media regulation a black and white one. “You’re falling into the trap of saying that unless it’s a free for all, it’s Zimbabwe or somewhere. It annoys me when good journalists say that,” he said.

“These (phone hackers) are scumbags hiding behind your coat tails – they corrupted our police and intimidated our politicians.”

Mr Grant said he hoped to find out if the Conservative Party is serious about “taking on the bullies”.

“I fantasise that the prime minister enjoyed that moment in July when suddenly MPs were free (of intimidation),” he said, adding that he was looking for a real appetite for change.

‘Incredibly scary enemy’

Mr Grant said that one of his first priorities in the Hacked Off campaign is to show how widespread the problem is, how it extends beyond the News of the World into the wider media.

He said he was prepared for it to become a time-consuming, long-grass operation. Phone hacking is an “incredibly scary enemy” that Mr Grant said he had been telling people about at dinner parties for 14 years.

Mr Grant dismissed the idea that he was doing a journalists job. “It’s an annoying assumption – look at Matt Damon or George Clooney. We’re doing the jobs that real journalists or politicians haven’t done,” he said.

However, he admitted he was happy to spare the time. “I’m making two films at the same time, which seems slightly banal in comparion,” said Mr Grant.

Mr Grant’s meeting with the prime minister came as a the counsel for the Leveson phone hacking inquiry today told the high court that cameras will be installed in the courtroom to record evidence from witnesses which could include the family of Milly Dowler, Madeleine McCann’s parents and the actress Sienna Miller.