Hugh Grant is leading a new effort to prove phone hacking took place at The Sun, even as Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper continues to insist there was no illegality going on there.

The actor followed in the footsteps of Paul Gascoigne and Sienna Miller in making so-called “Only in the Sun” phone hacking claims, namely the allegation that illegal behavior took place in the daily tabloid in the 2000s. Rebekah Brooks, current chief executive officer of Murdoch’s News UK, was editor of Sun during the time in question.

British firm Murdoch’s News has spent millions of pounds dealing with complaints from the likes of Miller and Gascoigne about the alleged activities of Sun journalists, ensuring the charges don’t go to trial. .

“I doubt it limits the damage to some extent,” said Nathan Sparkes, chief executive officer of Hacked Off, which campaigns for stricter press regulations. “In the case of the Sun, it’s most likely because they’re trying to avoid a full-blown trial in which a lot of other details could come up that they don’t want to appear.”

More such cases are expected in the future, causing Murdoch’s business more and more headaches as it tries to move away from the era of phone hacking and focus instead on the upcoming launch of the channel. news talkTV headed by Piers Morgan. Morgan himself has faced repeated accusations – which he staunchly denies – that he must have known about the practice as editor of the Daily Mirror in the 2000s.

The Hugh Grant case embarrasses News UK as the company has always said its illegal activity only takes place at News of the World, the Sunday shop it closed in 2011 after 168 years.

This has left Sun in the unusual position of insisting that it doesn’t hack phones, and choosing to pay huge sums of damages and legal fees – despite not admitting wrongdoing – to those who don’t. other requesters.

The ongoing cost of legal action has affected Sun’s value as a business and caused it to incur enormous financial losses.

The company recently failed in its efforts to stop the ongoing legal process that made it easier for victims of alleged phone hacking to make claims. With thousands of other potential victims waiting, legal action over phone hacking could now drag into its third decade – potentially adding to the hundreds of millions of pounds already spent by Murdoch’s firm. pay.

Among the individuals who have made new phone hacking claims against the company in recent weeks are government minister Zac Goldsmith, his mother Lady Annabel Goldsmith, director of football Alan Pardew, the former cabinet minister Chris Huhne, Spice Girl Mel B, Atomic Kitten’s Liz McClarnon, actors Gillian Anderson and Kate Winslet, boxer Joe Calzaghe and Steps singer Lisa Scott-Lee.

Grant, who solved a phone hack against News of the World in 2012, is unusual as one of a relatively small group of people who have been able to make a distinct claim against the Sun. .

In a complicated legal settlement, the still-publishing Sun and the now-defunct News of the World are both owned by the same parent company, meaning it can settle lawsuits against the company. second company on condition that the victim does not bring a separate claim against the previous company.

But the individuals who secured some of the first phone-hacking deals in the early 2010s – such as Grant – were not asked to agree to such terms. This allowed them to file a second case against the Sun.

Reach, the current owner of the Daily Mirror, is also facing lengthy and ongoing legal claims over historical phone hacking charges at its tabloids. Prince Harry also has a case underway through the courts alleging misconduct at the Sun, News of the World and Mirror publishers.

Sparkes, which is pushing for a public inquiry into the relationship between the media and the police, said: “The foundation of hacking is not just the operation itself, but also the cover-up and given culture. allow it to happen. It may have happened a long time ago but there is no evidence that the culture has fundamentally changed.”

News UK has been approached for comment.

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