Hugh Grant’s Damages Claim Against Publishers Proceeds To Trial

Actor Hugh Grant’s damages claim against the publisher of The Sun will proceed to trial following a ruling by a High Court judge, according to recent reports.

Grant, aged 62, alleges that he was subjected to targeting by journalists and private investigators employed by News Group Newspapers (NGN), specifically in relation to The Sun. Notably, Grant had previously settled a claim with the publisher in 2012, but it pertained to the News of the World.

NGN had sought to have Grant’s claim, as well as a similar claim by the Duke of Sussex, dismissed on the grounds of late filing. However, Mr Justice Fancourt ruled on Friday that Grant’s claim, with the exception of allegations related to phone hacking, could proceed to trial.
The judge determined that Grant had knowledge of phone hacking and could have initiated a claim earlier, but other allegations would be examined during the trial.

The ruling also stated that it was only in 2021, upon reviewing invoices disclosed by NGN, that Grant became aware of the potential involvement of private investigators hired by The Sun to target him.

While Grant had a general awareness of allegations and harboured suspicions prior to March 2016 about the use of private investigators, the judge opined that there was a realistic chance that Grant could demonstrate at trial that he couldn’t reasonably have believed with sufficient confidence that he was targeted by The Sun through private investigators.

The judge emphasized that having knowledge or belief that NGN’s denials of phone hacking were false did not necessarily imply that Grant believed at the time that different methods were employed to target him. Therefore, the issue of other alleged activities would be addressed during the trial.

Regarding Prince Harry’s claim, a ruling on whether it can proceed will be published later this year after a July hearing determines whether his case can be amended to include allegations of a “secret agreement” between the royal family and senior NGN executives, working under proprietor Rupert Murdoch.

A spokesperson for NGN expressed satisfaction with the High Court’s ruling, stating that Grant was statute barred from bringing a phone hacking claim against The Sun. However, the remaining aspects of Grant’s claim, based on a statement by private investigator Mr Gavin Burrows in 2021, have been allowed to proceed to trial. NGN firmly denies the historical allegations of unlawful information-gathering contained in Grant’s claim.

In response to the developments, Grant, through his lawyers at the law firm Gunnercooke, issued a statement expressing his pleasure that his case would go to trial, emphasizing the importance of uncovering the truth about The Sun’s activities.

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