Fighting Tabloids Expensive, Celebrities Say
Several British celebrities appearing today (Monday) before the Leveson inquiry into the ethics of the media described the enormous legal costs involved in trying to protect themselves against reporters who invade their privacy. TV comedian Steve Coogan noted that newspapers were insured against lawsuits but that their victims had to gamble huge sums in hopes of winning in court. He said it had cost him £15,000 to £20,000 ($23,500 to $31,500) in legal fees to keep a newspaper from publishing a story about one of his relatives and that he has already spent over £200,000 ($310,000) in his lawsuit against News of the World for hacking his voicemail. Former Formula One racing boss Max Mosley told the panel, "You've got to risk a million pounds [in legal fees] to get justice." Mosley successfully sued the News of the World for libel; however, he noted, even after winning £480,000 ($750,000) in court, he was still £30,000 ($50,000) out of pocket because of his legal fees. And actor Hugh Grant, argued that it was "absolutely key" that privacy should not be available only to those with "substantial means" to secure it. Some journalists, he said, were interested only in "the apropriation of British citizens' privacy for commercial profit." He also accused police of working hand-in-glove with tabloid reporters. "There were many years when you had to be very careful for calling the police about anything ... because usually the first person that turned up is not a policeman but a reporter."