The Sun’s latest out of court settlement evokes anger and dismay

‘The cost to Rubert Murdoch of keeping the full, sordid details secret is staggering.'

Hugh Grant has settled a High Court claim against the publisher of the Sun newspaper after being offered what he referred to as an “enormous sum of money.”

The actor was suing News Group Newspapers (NGN) for claims that reporters had used private investigators to burgle his house and tap his phone. NGN denies the claims, rejecting any wrongdoing by staff at the Sun.

Grant said the money had a “stink” about it. In a statement, he explained how persisting with the legal challenge risked making him viable to pay legal costs for both parties that could approach £10m, as “Rupert Murdoch’s lawyers are very expensive.”

“I would love to see all the allegations that they deny tested in court,” he wrote.

“As is common with entirely innocent people, they are offering me an enormous sum of money to keep this matter out of court.”

Following Grant’s settling of the lawsuit against the publisher of Murdoch’s British tabloid, the lawyer for Prince Harry said the Royal could also be ‘forced’ to agree a deal. Like Grant, Prince Harry is suing NGN for alleged widespread unlawful gathering information.

David Sherborne, the lawyer for both Grant and Prince Harry, told a hearing at the High Court in London on April 17 that the prince and other claimants face a similar predicament and have settlements “forced” upon them.

“The Duke of Sussex is subject to the same issues that (actress) Sienna Miller and Hugh Grant have been subject to, which is that offers are made (which) make it impossible for them to go ahead,” Sherborne said.

Prince Harry has regularly spoken of  his “mission” to purge the British press.

In March, Harry and other claimants sought to drag Murdoch into the case, alleging the media mogul was personally involved in a cover-up of wrongdoing.

Murdoch’s NGN has settled more than 1,000 cases without making any admission of liability, and has paid out £1 billion to keep cases out of court.

Former footballer Paul Gascoigne, actress Sienna Miller, comedian Catherine Tate, Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm, and radio presenter Chris Moyles have all settled cases with the NGN. Miller settled a lawsuit against NGN in 2021, which at the time her lawyers said was due to the risk of having to pay millions of pounds in legal fees even if she won.

An earlier allegation that Hugh Grant made against the publisher in relation to the now defunct News of the World was settled in 2012. The newspaper, which at one time was the world’s highest-selling English-language newspaper, was shut down by Murdoch in 2011 following public outcry to the phone hacking revelations. The phone hacking scandal broke over a decade ago, when investigations showed the newspaper was engaged in phone hacking activities, targeting celebrities, members of the Royal Family, politicians, and the phones of the relatives of the deceased in high-profile cases.

News that Hugh Grant was ‘forced’ to settle out of court was met with anger. Broadcaster and author John Simpson shared his dismay:

“Not a single one of the many cases brought against the Sun for illegal activity (unlike the defunct News of the World) has come to court, where the full evidence would have been made public. The cost to Rubert Murdoch of keeping the full, sordid details secret is staggering,” he posted on X.

“I understand why the UK doesn’t want to allow frivolous lawsuits to flourish, but this law is wild. It ensures that companies with the deepest pockets will never be held accountable for wrongdoing. The system is literally rigged. No surprise, sadly,” was another comment.

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