Hugh Grant, making a foray into politics, said Prime Minister David Cameron must make good on promises to clean up the press after a phone-hacking scandal centred on Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Grant, who suspects his mobile phone messages have been intercepted by tabloid journalists, earlier met Cameron to press his case for reform in the light of a scandal that has shaken the British establishment.
“We had a sort of charm-off really,” joked Grant, who played the role of prime minister in the movie “Love Actually,” when asked about the meeting with Cameron at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester, Reuters reports.
Cameron has appointed judge Brian Leveson to head an independent inquiry into the media, its recommendations due to come in a year.
“He did make all the right noises. Will he still be making the right noises when Leveson reports?” Grant added at a packed public meeting on the sidelines of the conference. “Nice man, but we’ll see.”
Cameron’s reputation has been tarnished by the phone-hacking scandal involving the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Cameron has been criticised for his decision to hire former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his communications chief in 2007 — accepting his assurances that he knew nothing of phone-hacking that occurred under his editorship.
Coulson resigned as an aide to Cameron in January and police arrested him in July on suspicion of corruption and trying to intercept communications. He was freed on bail.
News Corp closed down the 168-year-old tabloid News of the World in July and was forced to drop a multibillion dollar plan to take full control of pay TV operator BSkyB after a public outcry when it emerged journalists had hacked the phones of murder victims as well as celebrities.
Grant has joined forces with campaign group Hacked Off to lobby against the excesses of the tabloid press and has brought his film-star glamour to all three main party conferences held in recent weeks.
Fringe meetings around the conferences are usually staid events, but Grant was greeted by excited activists brandishing cameras and mobile phones to snap his photo.
He accused tabloid newspapers of having a business model of “privacy theft for profit” and attacked politicians for their craven approach to Murdoch, whose support could help to swing elections.
“Five successive governments licked the boots of one particular media owner,” he said.