It’s proving a serious problem for former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan - how to maintain the relentless self-promotion and opinion dispensing without straying into areas where people start to ask inconvenient questions about his past. So it has proved today as he has once again gone after actor and campaigner Hugh Grant.
Grant has been a passionate advocate of Britain remaining within the EU; of this he has made no secret. So it should have surprised no-one when, during a Q&A about his latest film The Gentleman, he described the current state of political affairs in the UK as “a catastrophe”, and added that in his opinion, “the country’s finished”.
By complete coincidence, Morgan just happened to pick up on the comments, and immediately pontificated upon them. “Hugh Grant is so disgusting [why? Because he’s engaging in a civilised discourse?]. How dare he say Britain is ‘finished' [freedom of speech, Piers, remember?]? The only thing that's 'finished' is this stuck-up arrogant twerp's credibility as any kind of political expert [no citation, as usual]”.
Why so full of spite? Ah well. Sue Barnish was close when she ventured “Nothing like being named and shamed in a Court case to trigger a dislike”. Not only did Grant secure a six-figure payout from the publishers of the Mirror titles, he donated it to the Hacked Off campaign. Grant is a Hacked Off supporter. Morgan hates the group with a passion.
You think I jest? Here’s a few examples. “All you need to know about Saint Steve Coogan...what a ludicrous hypocritical tool” [after Coogan, who supports Hacked Off, had a pop at Creepy Uncle Rupe] … “Enjoyed our chat [Evan Harris]. You were just as odious, irritating, agenda-fuelled & absurdly hypocritical as I hoped. Come back soon” [Evan is a former director of Hacked Off and made Morgan seriously nervous. He’s not been asked back on GMB] … “Great hatchet job [Nick Davies] - for the record, Andy's never owned a Porsche, nor called anyone ‘sweetheart’" [Davies exposed the phone hacking scandal] … “Clever dick Remoaners like … [James O’Brien]” [who gave the 2018 Leveson Lecture].
But Morgan, although he dislikes all of those people, viscerally hates Hugh Grant. The extra level of hatred can be easily explained by this statement which Grant gave outside the High Court in February 2018: “It is clear from the evidence in this litigation so far that Ms [Tina] Weaver. and Messrs [Richard] Wallace, [Mark] Thomas and [James] Scott were all phone hackers themselves, and that either Piers Morgan and Neil Wallis were so incompetent as not to know the real source of scores of exclusives that they published, or were complicit in the conduct themselves”. And there was more.
“This newspaper group has misled the public and its shareholders for many years. It has let down its readers and its hard-working journalists. Those journalists have paid the price for the wrongdoing of executives who have left with large payoffs, and share options. Here we have a public limited company whose executives concealed years of criminality. The public were not told the truth. The victims were not told the truth. The shareholders were not told the truth. The Leveson Inquiry was not told the truth”. Ouch!
Hugh Grant has brought the discomfort of Piers Morgan’s past into the open. And he’s still campaigning for press accountability. That’s why Morgan hates him so much.
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