It would be difficult to imagine a more quintessentially English gentleman than Hugh Grant. At one time, the playwright, actor and songwriter Noël Coward
was the epitome of that animal. Roger Moore, who has played both The Saint
on the small screen
and 007 on the big one combined Englishness with cloak and dagger, as did Patrick MacNee
, complete with bowler hat.
Grant though is best known for films and characters that are not to be taken too seriously. Having said that, the 1996 thriller Extreme Measures
proved he is capable of carrying off the heavy stuff as well. Nevertheless, it probably came as a surprise to many people that he should be playing a major role in the phone hacking scandal that has rocked the News Of The World
), News International, the British tabloids, the Metropolitan Police, and who knows next?
Grant’s involvement began with one of those amazing happenstances that just, well, happen. His car broke down miles from anywhere, and a man in a white van came to his rescue. This character turned out to be an ex-News Of The World
journalist who as well as offering him a lift, bombarded him with tales of his former career and misdeeds with an arrogance that is so typical of the tabloid press.
The man was now running a public house in Dover, and asked Grant if he would pose for a photograph with him, “not for publication, just for the wall of the pub”. Under the circumstances, how could he refuse? The photo ended up in the Mail On Sunday
Another thing the exasperated actor could not refuse was an invitation to drop in for the proverbial quick one, and this is where the thesbian stepped up to sleuth, taking with him one of those recording devices so beloved of spy thrillers.
Grub Street hacks and alcohol are a fatal mix, and Hugh Grant is so boyishly charming, who could possibly take him seriously? It remains to be seen how much of his alcohol-induced confession is true; one of his claims most definitely is not, but he probably wishes it was, for when Grant told him “You probably wouldn't want people listening to your conversations” , he replied “I'm not interesting enough for anyone to want to listen in.”
Hugh Grant’s New Statesman
article can be found here
Although the New Statesman
is an ultra-creepy left wing publication beloved of champagne socialists, the kind who like a certain Mr Strauss-Kahn
see no contradiction between attacking the “ruling class” on one hand and patronising £600 a night hotels on the other, it has over the years published some quality exposés
of official and quasi-official perfidy. It was the New Statesman
that unearthed the notorious (if not quite believable) Gable Memorandum back in 1980
; two years earlier, in June 1978, one of its columnists mocked the acclaimed expert on espionage Chapman Pincher “...the columns of the Express
may be seen as a kind of official urinal in which, side by side, high officials of MI5 and 6, Sea Lords, Permanent Under-Secretaries, Lord George-Brown, Chiefs of the Air Staff, nuclear scientists, Lord Wigg and others stand patiently leaking [secrets to] Mr Pincher [who is] too self-important and light-witted a fellow to realise how often he has been used”.
In recent years, the New Statesman
has also been right on the money on a variety of issues. Unfortunately, its latest celebrity columnist appears to be right on this one too; it is not, he says, one newspaper, nor one company, nor simply the media, but the whole establishment including the police and certain politicians.
In addition to expressing his total revulsion at what has been going on behind the scenes for years and calling for a public inquiry, the man who could well be the next James Bond made a prediction; at some point in time he will himself be the target of some sort of a tabloid smear. Those with long memories will know that he has already been targeted by not simply the tabloids but the entire world’s media, and that time he had no one but himself to blame. In 1995, Grant was the regular consort of Elizabeth Hurley, who was then regarded, rightly or wrongly, as one of the most beautiful women in the world. Then, amazingly, he was arrested for paying a common prostitute in Los Angeles $60 for doing what prostitutes do.
In view of his unblemished track record since, we can put this down to a moment of madness, but if at any time in the not too distant future Hugh is arrested for possessing a kilogramme of the white stuff, or for running the Islington branch of Al-Qaeda, there is not a jury in the land that would convict him.
Although this ongoing and still unfolding scandal did not involve murder, gun running or even drug smuggling, the people behind it have been prepared to hack into the phone of a young murder victim
, giving her family false hope that she might still be alive; to hack into the phones of the families of murder and terror victims; to spy on politicians, to spy on, apparently members of the Royal Family; and even both to bribe police officers on the one hand and take bribes on the other.
These people are contemptible and vile beyond belief; as Hugh 007 Grant says, we need a full scale public inquiry in order to avoid the inevitable whitewash and cover up.