In what will be an occasional feature: an update to some previous diaries – in this case about your-friend-and-mine, Rupert – after the jump …
Two years ago, I wrote a Top Comments diary about some heroes who emerged from the Rupert Murdoch phone hacking scandal – where his top lieutenants in Britain (centered on his News of the World newspaper, or NOTW) managed to break-into the mobile phones of several celebrities. Three consensus heroes were these individuals:
1) Journalist Nick Davies – who broke the story that the NOTW had hacked the phone of a 13 year-old English girl (who was subsequently found murdered).
2) Member of Parliament Tom Watson – whom Murdoch’s overall NewsCorp took on after an internal Labour Party struggle, oddly ….. and which backfired: as Watson battled NewsCorp in Parliament for two long years.
3) Finally, the film star Hugh Grant – who received a major financial settlement for breach of privacy … by wearing a wire that gleaned a confession by one of Murdoch’s minions (who couldn’t resist boasting of his achievements).
The original diary is at this link – where much more (including the Murdoch people involved) is explained, and if you are not familiar with them: it’s worth a read first.
Now ………………….. an update.
The award-winning journalist for the Guardian newspaper who was cited above has written a book about the subject, which made the Financial Times ongoing “Business Books of the Decade” list. And in this short interview Nick Davies (photo left, below) explains what happened, plus the fact that Rupert Murdoch incorporated NewsCorp in the US .. could leave it vulnerable to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act if any of the subsequent (and smaller) trials leads to a conviction.
In the major trial that took place last summer: one top Murdoch lieutenant (Rebekah Brooks, photo left) was acquitted …. while Andy Coulson (on left in 2nd photo) was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison (though he was released after serving less than five months, required to wear an electronic monitor). His conviction was quite embarrassing to prime minister David Cameron (on right in 2nd photo, with the constipated facial expression) – who had employed Coulson as his head of communications from 2007 to January of 2011.
And finally, it appears that a fourth name might be appended to the heroes list. While Hugh Grant was the celebrity whose use of a wire – combined with the work of Nick Davies, MP Tom Watson and others – that truly broke-open the Murdoch scandal …. it seems another film star had taken on NewsCorp earlier: after taking on the (generic) ‘stalkerazzi’, at some career risk.
Sienna Miller is now age 33 (with a child) yet she acknowledges having a fun time in her 20’s. She starred in a number of films last decade including Layer Cake, Factory Girl, Casanova and the 2004 re-make of Alfie – where she developed a relationship with Jude Law. Combine the allure of being in an “it couple”, being in some high-profile acting roles and her photogenic looks … and it is no wonder she became a top target of the UK’s stalkerazzi. But she fought back, as noted in this 2011 interview:
She won numerous harassment and invasion of privacy cases against the tabloid press, including a 2008 settlement against Darryn Lyons, aka TV’s Mr Paparazzi, spurred on no doubt by a programme he made, which was charmingly entitled Stalking Sienna – in which he admitted to the primal pleasure of hunting his prey.
Miller filmed photographers in pursuit of her with a secret video camera (disguised as a lighter) so that she could show the judge, who was visibly shocked, how they routinely tried to cause accidents, swore at her and backed her into dark street corners. As a result of her court action, it is now unlawful for them to sit in wait outside her house, to follow her or take photos of her anywhere she can reasonably expect privacy.
She became convinced that she was being hacked when personal stories that only she and a few close friends knew wound up in the tabloids (despite changing mobile phone numbers regularly). “So I started to do tests. I would leave messages on people’s phones, like we’re going to rent this house or whatever, and it would appear the next day in the papers.”
And so when the hacking story first began to emerge years ago, that same spirit led her to take legal action (and which she won a $160k settlement from Murdoch). It was her case that was name-checked by both Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks in the Leveson Select Committee hearings and she testified back in 2011 at the Leveson Inquiry at The Royal Courts of Justice (photo left, below). No wonder Hugh Grant referred to her thusly as:
“The real heroine and first one out of the trenches, walking towards the machine guns”.
After years of a low profile: Sienna Miller has begun to emerge with several films in the pipeline. She gave a heartfelt interview recently on CBS Sunday Morning about how her life changed as a result of all of these legal actions. Interestingly, although she grew-up in London and has a UK passport …. like Nicole Kidman (an Australian who was born in Honolulu), Sienna Miller was actually born … in New York City.