Hugh Grant has labelled Rupert Murdoch a ‘danger to liberal democracy’ and said his life was ‘extremely difficult after his Divine Brown escapade’ in a new documentary.
The actor, 59, is set to appear in BBC2’s controversial new documentary Rise of The Murdoch Dynasty, which focuses on the phone-hacking scandal which rocked the mogul’s News International empire between 2009 and 2011.
In the documentary, Hugh hit out at Rupert Murdoch, 89, as he details how he struggled with press attention in the 1990s.
It comes as BBC bosses face criticism for failing to be impartial by omitting crucial background details about contributors Hugh, Tom Watson, and Max Mosley in the three-part documentary.
Hugh Grant (pictured) has labelled Rupert Murdoch a ‘danger to liberal democracy’ in a new BBC Two documentary
The episode, entitled The Rebel Alliance, either fails to mention or glosses over details such as Grant’s criminal record or the role Mr Watson played in promoting unsubstantiated allegations of a VIP child abuse ring at Westminster, which were subsequently proved to be false.
In the programme, Hugh details: ‘The tabloids started writing about me when I suddenly had some success in 1994 after Four Weddings and a Funeral.
‘In the wake of my Divine Brown escapade, I knew there would be a s*** storm and thought “Okay this is my punishment”.
‘But anywhere you went, bang, there was a pap and you would think “How do they know where I am?” We now know it’s because they were hacking your phone.’
Hugh goes on: ‘Life at that time was extremely difficult and remained difficult for 10 or 15 years, because their power grew and grew’.
Later Hugh adds: ‘Murdoch is a proper danger to liberal democracy, if liberal democracy is your thing.’
Alan Rusbridger, the then editor of The Guardian newspaper, and investigative reporter Nick Davies, Hugh, along with Tom Watson, and Max Mosley, are credited with exposing how News of the World journalists hacked the phones of celebrities and even murder victims, including Milly Dowler.
Hugh describes the group as a ‘resistance’ and praises Nick Davies as being ‘fearless’ in the face of a ‘scary enemy’.
The programme was criticised for not dwelling on the arrest of Grant in 1995 after he was caught in a ‘lewd act’ with sex worker Divine Brown (right) , which he brushed off as an ‘escapade’
‘Our little resistance grew,’ says Hugh. ‘And it was immensely helpful that we all had each other, because it is a scary enemy, there is no doubt about that.’
He later adds: ‘Nick Davies started the whole thing and he’s fearless.’
In 1995 Hugh was famously arrested near Sunset Boulevard after paying around £45 ($60) for Divine to perform oral sex on him in his car.
Hugh was sentenced to a fine of $1,000 (£761) and ordered to attend an education programme about Aids.
Brown was sentenced to 180 days in prison for engaging in lewd conduct in a public place, and had also violated her probation for previous prostitution charges.
The News of the World published a photo of Divine Brown on their front page in a Versace safety-pin dress like the one that delivered fame to the star’s girlfriend, Liz Hurley (pictured in 1994)
In a statement at the time Hugh said: ‘Last night I did something completely insane. I have hurt people I love and embarrassed people I work with. For both things I am more sorry than I can ever possibly say.’
The episode led to personal humiliation for Hugh, then 34, when The News of the World, published a story with Brown, real name Stella Marie Thompson.
The publication used a photo of her on their front page in a Versace safety-pin dress like the one that delivered fame to the star’s girlfriend, Liz Hurley. Grant’s relationship with Hurley did not survive the fallout.
Hugh said he knew the scandal would lead to negative press attention. Pictured, Rupert photographed next to a portrait of his father, Keith Murdoch in 2006
Brown went onto make around $1 million through the publicity surrounding the scandal.
The documentary also details how ex-Formula 1 boss Mosley began helping to fund those who wanted to take legal action against the press, prompting Grant to hail him a ‘hero’.
Mosley successfully sued now-defunct newspaper The News of the World after it published a story claiming he had been involved in a Nazi-themed sex orgy.
The documentary will detail how ex-Formula 1 boss Max Mosley (pictured) began helping to fund those who wanted to take legal action against the press
In 2008, a judge ruled there was no substance to the claim of the Nazi theme which, Mr Mosley tells the programme, ‘they completely invented’.
He says the heartbreak unleashed by the publicity surrounding his private life encouraged his son Alexander to rekindle a drug addiction, which claimed his life in 2009.
Hugh explains: ‘Max decided to try and redress the wrongs of the British tabloid press, he’s been a hero really. ‘
Rise of The Murdoch Dynasty is set to air on BBC2 at 9pm and is available on BBC iPlayer