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Harsh words from Hugh Grant on hacking scandal

posted 20 Sep 2011, 07:03 by Mpelembe   [ updated 20 Sep 2011, 07:06 ]


Speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference, actor Hugh Grant says British police have been corrupted and Parliament "castrated" by yellow journalism.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (SEPTEMBER 18, 2011) ITN - Speaking about the phone hacking scandal British movie star Hugh Grant said elements of the British tabloid had "managed to corrupt large sections of our police force" and "effectively castrated" Parliament.

Grant, who has been a high-profile critic of invasions of privacy by the press, was addressing a fringe event at the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham on Sunday (September 18).

The actor said he would be attending all three of the major party conferences, looking to gauge politician's commitment to dealing with the phone hacking issue.

"I love to rant on this issue. I'm anxious on this issue, having made a lot of progress in the summer I'm nervous about momentum being lost because ultimately, obviously this scandal at the centre of our democracy can only ultimately be put right by politicians and so it seems to me to be right to be at all three party conferences to try and identity those politicians who really are going to be on our side. I mean an awful lot stood up on July 13th and appeared to have grown a pair of balls and I'm interested to see which ones are actually going to use them and which ones are going to stay on side," he told a full room of activists and press gathered at the meeting.

The "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Notting Hill" star was referring to the response to a string of sensational revelations and scandals over the summer, which saw journalists and private detectives use phone hacking and other illegal practices to gain personal information on celebrities and high profile victims of crime for newspaper articles.

Grant is a supporter of the the 'Hacked Off' campaign group, which is calling for stronger legislation against what it sees as the worst excesses of tabloid journalism.

"I see that what I think the whole country sees and the world sees, to the shame of our nation, is that we really have two presses now here, we have two newspaper industries. We have one, terrific, the best in the world, to be defended at all costs, it's a cornerstone of our democracy and we should all be very proud of it.

"And hiding, as though using a human shield within that industry, another newspaper industry that used to be concerned with journalism but over the last 20 or 30 years has a new business model completely and that business model is the appropriation of British citizen's privacy. One of our most fundamental human rights, as outlined in our human rights act, they like to appropriate it, very often through criminal means and not for journalistic purposes, not in the public interest but for commercial profit.

"And whereas you would have thought that in an advanced and civilised country like this that scam would have been identified ages ago and legislated against, in fact, the exact reverse has applied for a very long time. They've enjoyed a kind of immunity from the law. They've managed to corrupt large sections of our police force through intimidation or through money or through money or through whatever. They've effectively castrated our Parliament for a long time through intimidation and five successive governments have not only turned a blind eye to their excesses but have competed to be sycophantic to them, to laugh at their jokes, to welcome them through the back door of Number 10," Grant said.

He went on to say he thought the Liberal Democrats were ideally placed to tackle the problem above other political parties as they had, he believed, a cleaner track record in their dealings with the tabloid press.

"You've never been in bed with these scumbags. You've always stood up for things like ownership, the morality of ownership and things like that. You are in government and, as I understand it from my Lib Dem chums, you're always looking for opportunities to punch above your weight. Well, could there be a greater opportunity? It seems to me an open goal for the Lib Dems to take this cause and to become real national heroes on this," he said.