'This is not the Steve Coogan and Hugh Grant show'

Nov 22, 2011

Comedian tells Leveson Inquiry that he is speaking out against media because others are scared

COMEDIAN Steve Coogan has been one of the flag bearers for victims of press intrusion ever since he clashed spectacularly with former News of the World reporter Paul McMullen on Newsnight in July.

Today he appeared before the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics. Here are the highlights:

  • "I've never sought to be famous... There are those who make their career by 'being famous', and those people do enter into a Faustian pact with the press by using them to raise their profile. They exploit the press to their own ends and it's a two way street... I have never set myself up as a paragon of virtue, I do what I do and that's what I like to be judged on - my work."
  • "The inference was clear; if you make life difficult for them [the tabloids], they will use their newspapers as a weapon against you... My closet is full of skeletons as a result of the press, so unwittingly they have made me immune in this sense."
  • On how Andy Coulson tried to sting him: "Rav Singh [NotW showbiz reporter] called me and said I was about to be the subject of a sting, I was about to receive a phone call. There was girl in [NotW editor] Andy Coulson's office who was going to speak to me on the phone; the phone call would be recorded; she would try to entice me into talking about intimate details about her and my life."
  • On catching reporters going through his bins: "I saw them. They didn't look like tramps; not far off."
  • "There's some brilliant journalism in this country. There needs to be a mechanism, in the interests of protecting genuine public interest journalism, for a privacy law - so that genuine public interest journalism isn't besmirched by this tawdry muck raking."
  • "This is not, in case the press try to portray it that way, the Steve and Hugh show. We're here not with great enthusiasm, but because somebody has to represent all those other people who haven't the stomach to be here... Of course there's a personal element to it as well, but it's not just about us, it's about other people."

Sign up for our daily newsletter