British actor Hugh Grant has moved from merely being the public face of the Hacked Off campaign for press reform, to become a director of a new company created by the group responsible. Hacked Off launched in July 2011 as the scale of the phone-hacking scandal became clear, with Grant regularly tearing into the activities of the newspapers who had targeted himself and others over the years. Indeed one of the highlights of the Leveson inquiry into newspapers’ conduct was in February, when Grant faced-off against Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail.
With Leveson now complete and fears that there will be attempts to water down or delay proposed regulations on the industry as time passes, the decision was taken to set up a not-for-profit company with a full-time remit to push through reforms. Funding is expected to come from private donations from Grant, other supporters, and possibly from high-profile phone-hacking victims who have received payouts by News International. Hacked Off will primarily oppose Lord Black and Lord Hunt’s newspaper-backed plans to simply have a reorganised self-regulatory body to monitor their future behaviour, viewed by them as not being anywhere near rigorous enough to prevent a repeat of previous behaviours.
Grant is the only celebrity on the board, the remainder being composed of academics, media lawyers and solicitors. It will be interesting to see how hands-on his role will be. Given his previous commitment to the cause, News International and the rest will now have an ongoing fight on their hands.