Hugh Grant explains why he's settling his lawsuit against“ ”U.K. publisher: 'I refuse to let this be hush money'

The actor was seeking legal action against News Group Newspapers (NGN) for allegedly hiring private investigators to tap his phone, track his car, and more.

Hugh Grant is speaking out about why he chose to settle his civil lawsuit against the publisher of U.K. tabloid The Sun. 

The actor, 63, and News Group Newspapers (NGN) reached an agreement during a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. According to the outlet, Grant, in addition to other claimants like Prince Harry, was seeking legal action against NGN over allegations that the company violated his privacy by engaging in unlawful activity that included hiring private investigators to tap his phone, place a tracking device on his car, and obtain confidential records between 1994 and 2016. (The outlet maintains that it does not accept liability for or admit to any of the allegations.)

That same day, Grant explained in a lengthy statement on X (formerly Twitter) why he chose to settle before the case could go to trial in London's High Court next January.

“News Group are claiming they are entirely innocent of the things I had accused The Sun of doing — phone hacking, unlawful information gathering, landline tapping, the burglary of my flat and office, the bugging of my car, the illegal blagging of medical records, lies, perjury, and the destruction of evidence,” 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.”

<p>Adrián Monroy/Medios y Media/Getty</p> Hugh Grant

Adrián Monroy/Medios y Media/Getty

Hugh Grant

He continued, “I don’t want to accept this money or settle. I would love to see all the allegations that they deny tested in court. But the rules around civil litigation mean that if I proceed to trial and the court awards me damages that are even a penny less than the settlement offer, I would have to pay the legal costs of both sides.”

Grant noted that “even if every allegation is proven in court,” his lawyers said he would likely still have to pay “something approaching £10 million in costs,” roughly $12.4 million dollars, as a result of the trial.

“I’m afraid I’m shying on that fence,” he admitted, adding that NGN owner Rupert Murdoch has settled “over 1500 claims in this way” and seemed “remarkably determined that there shouldn’t be a trial of the facts.”

A spokesperson for NGN told Entertainment Weekly in a statement that “in 2011, an unreserved apology was made by NGN to victims of voicemail interception by the News of the World.”

The statement continued, “Since then, NGN has been paying financial damages to those with proper claims. As we reach the tail end of litigation, NGN is drawing a line under disputed matters, some of which date back more than 20 years ago. In some cases, it has made commercial sense for both parties to come to a settlement agreement before trial to bring a resolution to the matter.”

Also noted in the statement was that there are "a number of disputed claims still going through the civil courts" to this day that seek to involve The Sun too. "The Sun does not accept liability or make any admissions to the allegations," it read. "A Judge recently ruled that parts of Mr Grant's claim were out of time and we have reached agreement to settle the remainder of the case. This has been done without admission of liability. It is in both parties' financial interests not to progress to a costly trial.”

While the total amount of the settlement has not been disclosed, Grant isn't happy about the end result. "Murdoch’s settlement money has a stink and I refuse to let this be hush money,” he stated. “I have spent the best part of 12 years fighting for a free press that does not distort the truth, abuse ordinary members of the public, or hold elected MPs to ransom in pursuit of newspaper barons’ personal profit and political power."

Grant plans to donate the money to organizations like Hacked Off, of which he is a board member, that aim "to expose the worst excesses of our oligarch-owned press.”

This isn’t the first time Grant has sued NGN for allegedly hacking his phone. He previously reached an agreement with the company after taking legal action against their now-shuttered publication News of the World following its infamous 2011 phone hacking scandal. At the time, his solicitor Mark Thomson told EW that Grant had similarly "instructed us to donate all of his damages plus an additional payment from him to the Hacked Off Campaign for a free and accountable media.”

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