Hugh Grant’s lawsuit alleging illegal seizure of British tabloid could be overturned, court says

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A London court on Friday rejected an attempt by the publisher at The Sun tabloid to throw out a lawsuit with the actor Hugh Grant alleging that journalists and investigators he had hired illegally detained him.

Judge Timothy Fancourt said a trial in January would have to decide whether The Sun was done illegal information gathering that included tapping his landline and bugging his car and breaking into his home.

News Group Newspapers (NGN), which owns The Sunargued that Grant did not submit his claims within the six-year time limit.

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Hugh Grant arrives at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles, Sunday, January 29, 2023.
Hugh Grant’s lawsuit claims The Sun can go to court illegally, according to a British judge. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

The judge dismissed Grant’s phone hacking charges due to time constraints, but said the case could proceed on the other charges.

“It was only after seeing invoices published … in 2021 that Mr. The Sun to target it in various ways, especially in 2011,” Fancourt wrote.

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The case was discussed at a hearing last month which also included phone hacking allegations by Prince Harry against News Group, Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers.

Fancourt’s decision did not deal with the Duke of Sussex’s case as he wants to hear more about Harry’s claims that he was prevented from making his claims much earlier because of a “secret deal” between Buckingham Palace and the Murdoch papers .

Hugh Grant arrives at the Rolls Buildings in central London to conclude the News Group Newspapers (NGN) phone hacking hearing on Thursday 27 April 2023.
Judge Timothy Fancourt said a trial in January must determine whether The Sun had unlawfully collected information. (James Manning/PA via AP)

Harry said the royal family had agreed to settle their issues with NGNthe publisher of violence News of the Worldout of court after a related lawsuit died down.

He said the agreement demanded an apology from the newspapers. In court papers, Harry said he only brought his lawsuit when efforts to expedite that settlement failed.

He said his brother, Prince William, the heir to the throne, later received a “substantial” settlement over phone hacking allegations against News Group.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, right, and his brother Prince Harry take part in a trade on the trading floor of BGC Partners, during BGC Charity Day 2013, in Canary Wharf, London, Wednesday, September 11, 2013.
The judge wants to hear more about Prince Harry’s allegations, after the Duke said his brother Prince William had received a “substantial” settlement over phone hacking allegations against News Group. (AP Photo/Chris Jackson, Pool)

NGN has denied that there was a “secret agreement”. The palace did not respond to messages seeking comments on that or the settlement that William is accused of.

A spokesperson for News Group issued a statement Friday saying it was pleased the court dismissed Grant’s phone hacking charges.

“NGN vehemently denies the various historical allegations of illegal information collection contained in the remainder of Mr. Grant’s claim,” the statement said.

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