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Saturday 19 September 2020

Mail Hugh Grant Interview WASN’T

It was the moment during the Leveson Inquiry proceedings that the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre came closest to self-combustion: his paper, the Daily Mail, was accused by actor and campaigner Hugh Grant of phone hacking. Dacre was incandescent: he almost uttered the F-Word live on air. The relationship between Grant and the Mail has not improved significantly since, despite the recent change of editor.

Hugh Grant - not interviewed by the Mail

Why this should be is not hard to understand: Grant is an unswerving supporter of the Hacked Off campaign, which seeks to make our free and fearless press more accountable to those ordinary people whose reputations it routinely trashes. The Mail, on the other hand, is perfectly happy with the status quo: complain and get fobbed off by press non-regulator IPSO, or come and sue if you think you’re hard enough.

So today’s news - that Grant had given an interview to the Mail’s Weekend magazine - was, well, unexpected. Had Geordie Greig’s mission to make the Mail a “force for good” (no laughing at the back) come so far, so soon? And then came the first line of the “interview”: “Hugh Grant has revealed how life as an older father has saved him from being a ‘scary old’ bachelor addicted to golf”. Hugh Grant talking about golf? Eh?

A kinder, gentler editor? Not as such

There was more. “In an interview with the Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine he admits he has never been ‘Mr Nice Guy’ and adds: ‘I think I turned into a slightly scary old golf-addicted bachelor, and to tell you the truth I’m glad to see the back of him.’” I can't imagine Hugh Grant said that to the Mail. And there is a good reason for that - he didn’t. There was no interview. He did not sit down with the Mail’sShowbusiness News Editor”.

We know this as he has said so: “Astonished and revolted to see [Daily Mail] has a prominent ‘interview’ with me today. Never spoke to them. Yuk”. So how did the paper get all those quotes? “Am told the piece is cobbled together from quotes I gave to a press conference of journalists from many countries that I did in America in January. None of them declared they were from the Mail”. But one of them presumably was.

So why now? Ah well. Grant features alongside Nicole Kidman in a new Sky Atlantic release, and the Mail doesn’t want to be left out. They at least admit that, well, sort of: “Grant, who stars alongside Nicole Kidman in Sky Atlantic’s upcoming psychological thriller The Undoing … The Undoing, which starts next month, is about therapist Grace Fraser (Kidman) whose husband (Grant) disappears”. No access? No problem - just invent it.

What recourse does Grant have? I suspect that, providing the Mail’s showbiz person introduced herself as such, even fleetingly, at the press conference he mentions, very little. What was that about Greig creating a kinder, gentler Daily Mail, a force for good? Nothing more than flannel, a little braggadocio to wind up Dacre, who was kicked upstairs after he vacated the editor’s chair. The Daily Mail is still a devious and spiteful beast.

And remember this: if the Mail can get away with this sleight of hand against someone who has the means to fight back, just imagine what their hacks will do when it’s someone who doesn’t. This is a leopard that will never willingly change its spots.

Full disclosure: Zelo Street also supports the Hacked Off campaign (read more HERE).

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