Hugh Grant Says He Was 'Offered Enormous Sum of Money' to Settle Privacy Lawsuit Against Tabloid

The terms of the settlement were not shared, but the actor says that he refuses to 'let this be hush money.'

Hugh Grant Says He Was 'Offered Enormous Sum of Money' to Settle Privacy Lawsuit Against Tabloid


7:58 AM PDT, April 17, 2024

Although Hugh Grant has settled his privacy case against the publisher of The Sun, Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers, the British actor says he refuses to "let this be hush money."

Per the BBC, Grant reached a settlement on Wednesday after filing a lawsuit against News Group Newspapers (NGN) regarding his claims that the publisher used private investigators to tap his phone and rob his house in 2011. NGN denied the 63-year-old actor's claims against it, but in May 2023 a court ruled that Grant's case was eligible to go to trial, barring the phone-hacking allegations. 

Grant previously sued NGN over articles published in The News of the World, a now-defunct tabloid. That case was settled in 2012.

Grant took to social media to explain the reasoning behind the unexpected resolution, posting a lengthy statement on X (formerly Twitter) in which he shared that continuing the lawsuit would make him liable for the substantial legal costs.

"News Group are claiming they are entirely innocent of the things I had accused the Sun of doing - phone hacking, unlawful information gathering, landline tapping, the burglary of my flat and office, the bugging of my car, the illegal blagging of medical records, lies, perjury and the destruction of evidence," Grant wrote in part. "As is common with entirely innocent people, they are offering me an enormous sum of money to keep this matter out of court."

"I don’t want to accept this money or settle. I would love to see all the allegations that they deny tested in court," he added. "But the rules around civil litigation mean that if I proceed to trial and the court  awards me damages that are even a penny less than the settlement offer, I would have to pay the legal costs of both sides."

Grant explained that his lawyers cautioned him that it was likely he would have to pay for Murdoch's "expensive lawyers."

"So even if every allegation is proven in court, I would still be liable for something approaching £10 million in costs. I’m afraid I am shying at that fence," the Wonka star wrote. "Murdoch's settlement money has a stink and I refuse to let this be hush money. I have spent the best part of 12 years fighting for a free press that does not distort the truth, abuse ordinary members of the public or hold elected MPs to ransom in pursuit of newspaper barons' personal profit and political power."

With that in mind, Grant announced that the settlement money will be "repurposed via groups like Hacked Off into the general campaign to expose the worst excesses of our oligarch-owned press."

Hacked Off is Grant's organization that was established in 2011 to advocate for a "free and accountable press for the public," according to its website.

In a statement to BBC, a NGN spokesperson said, "In 2011, an unreserved apology was made by NGN to victims of voicemail interception by the News of the World. Since then, NGN has been paying financial damages to those with proper claims. As we reach the tail end of litigation, NGN is drawing a line under disputed matters, some of which date back more than 20 years ago. In some cases, it has made commercial sense for both parties to come to a settlement agreement before trial to bring a resolution to the matter.

"There are a number of disputed claims still going through the civil courts some of which seek to involve The Sun. The Sun does not accept liability or make any admissions to the allegations," they added. "A judge recently ruled that parts of Mr Grant's claim were out of time and we have reached agreement to settle the remainder of the case. This has been done without admission of liability. It is in both parties financial interests not to progress to a costly trial."

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle have been involved in similar lawsuits surrounding their treatment by the British media. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have filed at least seven lawsuits against U.S. and U.K. media outlets since 2019.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle - Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023

In late 2021, Meghan won her lawsuit against Associated Newspapers, earning her financial damages and a front page apology from the Mail on Sunday. 

In December 2023, Britain's High Court ruled that the Duke of Sussex was the victim of phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), publisher of the Daily Mirror tabloid. He was awarded 140,600 pounds, which is about $180,000 in damages.

Following the win, Harry released a statement to ET, saying, "This case is not just about hacking. It is about a systemic practice of unlawful and appalling behavior, followed by clever-ups and destruction of evidence, the shocking scale of which can only be revealed through these proceedings."

"The journey to justice can be a slow and painful one and since bringing my claim almost five years ago defamatory stories and intimidating tactics have been deployed against me and at my family’s expense," Harry continued. "And so, as I too have learnt through this process, patience is, in fact, a virtue. Especially, in the face of vendetta journalism."

Harry was also part of a group alleging unlawful information gathering at Associated Newspapers Limited, which publishes The Daily Mail, and against NGN.

In February, Harry struck a settlement against MGN, which agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars as part of the settlement. According to multiple reports, the Duke of Sussex's attorney, David Sherborne, said at a court hearing that the news publisher agreed to pay all of Harry's legal bills, plus "substantial" damages." 

Amid the settlement, Harry vowed to continue his "mission" to keep the British media in check. "We have uncovered and proved the shockingly dishonest way in which the Mirror acted for so many years, and then sought to conceal the truth," Harry said in a statement read by his lawyer outside a London courthouse (via the Associated Press).

Harry also said he feels vindicated, while adding that "our mission continues." He also had parting words for Piers Morgan, who was editor of the Daily Mirror at the time of the stories in question, saying Morgan "knew perfectly well what was going on."

"His contempt for the court's ruling and his continued attacks ever since demonstrate why it was so important to obtain a clear and detailed judgment," Harry said in his statement. 

As part of the settlement, Harry agreed to drop further litigation against the Daily Mirror over 115 more tabloid stories he claimed were a byproduct of the newspaper's intrusive practices. In a statement, MGN said it was "pleased to have reached this agreement, which gives our business further clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago and for which we have apologized."