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Hugh Grant says he got ‘enormous sum’ to settle suit alleging illegal snooping by The Sun tabloid


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LONDON (AP) — Hugh Grant received “an enormous sum of money” to settle a lawsuit accusing The Sun tabloid of unlawfully tapping his phone, bugging his car and breaking into his home to snoop on him, the actor said Wednesday after the agreement was announced in court.

Grant, who along with Prince Harry had sued News Group Newspapers, said he settled reluctantly because he could have been stuck with a huge legal bill even if he prevailed at trial. Under civil court rules, he would have had to pay legal fees to both sides if he was awarded a penny less than the settlement offer.

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“As is common with entirely innocent people, they are offering me an enormous sum of money to keep this matter out of court,” Grant said on the social media platform X. “Even if every allegation is proven in court, I would still be liable for something approaching 10 million pounds ($12.4 million) in costs. I’m afraid I am shying at that fence.”

The amount of the settlement was not disclosed. NGN said in a statement that it admitted no liability and said the settlement was in the financial interest of both parties to avoid a costly trial.

Grant and other claimants have alleged that NGN, a subsidiary of the media empire built by Rupert Murdoch, violated their privacy through widespread unlawful activity that included hiring private investigators to intercept voicemails, tap phones, bug cars and use deception to access confidential information between 1994 and 2016.

Grant said in a witness statement that he could never figure out who broke into his fourth-floor apartment in 2011. The door had been pried off its hinges and the interior looked like there had been a fight but nothing was missing. Two days later, The Sun had a story detailing the interior and “signs of a domestic row.”

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He said he was astonished when a private eye hired by The Sun disclosed that people working for the newspaper had burglarized his apartment and placed a tracking device on his car.

Grant, who previously settled a case against Murdoch’s News of the World for hacking his phone, said he would not go away quietly.

“Murdoch’s settlement money has a stink and I refuse to let this be hush money,” he said. “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 (members of Parliament) to ransom in pursuit of newspaper barons’ personal profit and political power.”

Grant said he would direct the money to groups like Hacked Off, which was formed after phone hacking revelations in 2011 brought down News of the World and led to a government inquiry into unlawful press practices. Grant is a board member of the group that advocates for a free and accountable press.

While the now-defunct News of the World has apologized for hacking the phones of celebrities, politicians and families of dead soldiers and a murdered school girl, The Sun has settled cases without admitting liability.

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Grant’s agreement to settle his claims leaves The Duke of Sussex and 41 others scheduled to go to trial in the High Court in January.

The settlement came after Justice Timothy Fancourt previously rejected NGN’s attempt to throw out Grant’s lawsuit in May.

“If true … these allegations would establish very serious, deliberate wrongdoing at NGN, conducted on an institutional basis on a huge scale,” Fancourt wrote in May. “They would also establish a concerted effort to conceal the wrongdoing by hiding and destroying relevant documentary evidence, repeated public denials, lies to regulators and authorities, and unwarranted threats to those who dared to make allegations or notify intended claims against The Sun.

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