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Entries in News of the World (2)

Thursday
Nov242011

Sienna Miller and JK Rowling Testify at Ethics Inquiry

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Harry Potter author JK Rowling and actress Sienna Miller told harrowing stories Thursday of being harassed by aggressive celebrity reporters, including leaving a note in Rowling's 5-year-old's book bag or being spit at by photographers to get a shot of Miller's reaction.

The women testified before a British inquiry how they felt threatened by tabloid reporters and photographers in their efforts to get scoops.

Rowling said that tabloid media crews camped in front of her home for weeks at a time, waiting for pictures of the author and her children.

"It's hard to explain how it feels to someone who has not experienced it. It's incredibly threatening," she said.

The unrelenting attention makes her feel helpless at times to stop it.

"Clearly I can't put the invisibility cloak over myself or my house nor would I want to. I just want to have some privacy," she said.

At one point the Harry Potter creator said a journalist went so far as to slip a note into her 5-year-old daughter's book bag while she was away at school.

"I felt such a sense of invasion....it's very difficult to say how angry I felt that my 5-year-old daughter's school was not a complete place of security," she said.

Rowling has fought to keep her children out of the public spotlight. She has sued and won several cases to keep photographs of her children from being published.

"We're not looking for special treatment. We're looking for normal treatment," Rowling said.

Prime Minister David Cameron called for the inquiry into media ethics because of the widespread cell phone hacking scandal involving the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Of The World tabloid newspaper. The newspaper has admitted eavesdropping on celebrities, politicians and crime victims in search of scoops.

News of the World shut down earlier this year because of the scandal and Murdoch's son James resigned this week from his seat on the boards of several British newspapers. Earlier in the day, actress Sienna Miller told the panel that years of being chased, harassed, and spied on by tabloids and paparazzi left her "scared, paranoid and anxious."

Miller was one of the first celebrities to take The News Of The World to court over phone hacking. The newspaper agreed to a $160,000 settlement in May.

Miller, 29, testified that for years she was followed every day by 10 to 15 men, all members of the paparazzi who spat at and verbally abused her to get the reaction and the photo they wanted.

The star became tabloid fodder when she began dating fellow actor Jude Law. Miller said she was baffled to see details of her personal life constantly appearing in The News Of The World. She said reporters would appear out of nowhere, anticipating her every move.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul132011

Hugh Grant on 'News of the World' Scandal: 'Government Did Nothing'

ABC News(LONDON) -- Actor Hugh Grant, who helped expose the News of the World phone hacking scandal, says that not only did the British tabloids pay off the police to gather people's personal information, but that the British government did nothing to stop it.

"Tabloids are using private detectives who are using illegal techniques, and it's very widespread," Grant said. "And the government did nothing -- absolutely nothing -- because of their terror of the press. They did not want to upset the tabloid press, who they were, at that stage, still enthralled in."

The scandal -- involving News of the World, a British tabloid owned by News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch, and an epidemic of alleged criminal activity that includes hacking the voicemails of murder victims -- has rocked Britain to the core since erupting publicly last week.

Grant said evidence of British tabloids hacking into people's personal information has been around for years but that British government officials, including five successive prime ministers, tried to cover it up for fear of being smeared in one of Murdoch's papers.

"That's been one of the most shocking aspects of all this: You know, our politicians have been craven cowards in the face of Murdoch's terror," he said. "This was a country that was effectively ruled by Rupert Murdoch, and right now in Parliament they're pretty much telling him to get out of the country."

The actor said he has long had "paranoid moments" concerning the tabloid press because "photographers would pop up out of nowhere." But he couldn't confirm his suspicions that the press might be tracking him illegally until about five years ago. That's when, Grant said, police showed up at his door and told him they had arrested a private investigator who had Grant's personal information, including phone numbers, PIN numbers and bank account details.

Grant played a part in exposing the scandal when he wore a recording device as a former News of the World features editor, Paul McMullan, confirmed the paper's tactics to him. Grant then published his recordings in a British magazine, New Statesman.

Despite the scandal, Grant said he still believes in a system that allows freedom of the press.

"My main motive in all this has been to just bring it out into the public and to let people know that there's this scam going on," he said.

Earlier Wednesday, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a criminal investigation is underway and investigators are reviewing 11,000 pages of documents containing nearly 4,000 names and thousands of phone numbers. About 180 people whose identities were found in the documents have been notified so far.

Murdoch has been in London since Sunday to try to contain the crisis. The News of the World wasn't just another paper in Murdoch's portfolio; it was the best-selling and most-profitable Sunday paper in Britain.

James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's son and heir, announced last week that the newspaper would print its last issue on July 10 after 168 years of being in print, leaving its 270-person staff without jobs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio