LONDON (Reuters) - The mother of actor Hugh Grant’s baby daughter has won an injunction from the High Court “prohibiting harassment” of her and the child after she said paparazzi had made her life “unbearable.”
The injunction comes amid a high-profile inquiry into media standards, in which Grant is a leading figure, and a phone-hacking scandal in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp media empire.
Chinese actress Tinglan Hong was granted the order last week and details were made public on Friday when the judge, Justice Michael Tugendhat, explained his reasons in a written ruling, the Press Association reported.
Tugendhat said that, while Grant was very well-known, Hong had “never sought any publicity or been known to the public for any reason.”
He added that she and Grant, star of films such as “Notting Hill” and “Four Weddings And A Funeral,” had done their best to keep private the fact the baby was their child. But Hong had stated that since the birth “her life has become unbearable.”
“She cannot leave her home without being followed and there are constantly photographers waiting outside her home,” the judge said.
In April, the News of the World published a front-page story entitled “Hugh’s Secret Girl,” which speculated on whether she was pregnant. After that she was regularly followed and photographed without her consent.
The judge also referred to an incident in July when 51-year-old Grant appeared on a BBC TV programme and talked about phone-hacking, of which he is a suspected victim.
That evening Hong, 32, who was seven months pregnant, received phone calls from anonymous callers.
“After first ignoring such calls she did answer one,” the judge said. “The person calling said ‘Tell Hugh Grant to shut the fuck up.’”
The ruling said Hong had been terrified and had since changed her mobile phone. Since the birth of her child, she had not been able to take her daughter outside and was “unable to look after her daughter in a normal way,” the judge said.
Next Monday, Grant will be one of the first of the “core participants,” who say they have suffered unreasonably at the hands of newspapers, to give evidence at a public inquiry.
This was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron in July after it was revealed journalists from Murdoch’s News of the World weekly had hacked the phone of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered.
Dowler’s parents will also give evidence on Monday.
The inquiry has heard there were as many as 5,800 hacking victims, and accusations of unethical behaviour by some of Britain’s notoriously aggressive newspapers.
News International, News Corp’s British newspaper arm, has admitted to the inquiry that hacking could have continued beyond 2007, when its former royal correspondent was jailed for the practice.
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Andrew Roche