Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Hugh Grant's hacking plea to Tories

Actor Hugh Grant appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron to 'stand up' to Rupert Murdoch

Actor Hugh Grant has appealed to the "tradition of bravery" within the Tory Party as he met Prime Minister David Cameron to talk about phone-hacking.

The 51-year-old star of Love Actually said the Conservatives had reason to fear the findings of the Leveson Inquiry, but he wanted to discover whether Mr Cameron is a "man of principle" who would stand up to Rupert Murdoch.

"There's a negative way of looking at it, there's plenty of negative ways of looking at it," he said. "But there are positive ways of looking at it as well.

"It's an opportunity, an opportunity for the Conservatives, even the Conservatives who have been so in bed with News International, they must have quite enjoyed that sense of fresh air in July - 'Oh my God, we can be our own people, we can say what we like now, we don't have to obey our masters'.

"So maybe there is some appetite there to maintain that freedom and then there is a history, and the Conservatives are proud of their history of standing up to bullies, whether it was the City, whether it was Europe, or whether it was the unions.

"And here we are faced with another bully who has undemocratically had a massive sway over the running of this country for 20 years and maybe this will appeal to their traditions of bravery."

Speaking shortly before meeting Mr Cameron at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, he said their conversation would be "pricklier" but he wanted to take the "temperature" of the Prime Minister and the Conservatives for changes to the media in the wake of the scandal.

The actor was speaking on behalf of the Hacked Off campaign, launched shortly after it emerged that Milly Dowler's voicemail had been intercepted. He said he found it "hard to believe" that Mr Cameron did not know what was going on at News International when he appointed his ex-communications chief, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson.

"There are after all many reasons why the Conservative Party in particular might not have the appetite for the kind of media reform that we think is necessary," he said. "It's going to be important to see whether the... Prime Minister is a man of principle or whether he was just sounding good in July."

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