'Hatchet job': Hugh Grant's OTHER claim against the Mail
What was the motive behind Amanda Platell's column about the 'oleaginous lounge-lizard'?
HUGH GRANT's accusation that the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday might have engaged in telephone hacking has caught the headlines but the Leveson inquiry is also concerned about the actor's allegations against columnist Amanda Platell and her motives for a "hatchet job" on him.
The Mail group has flatly denied the accusations of phone hacking. But it has not addressed as yet Grant's claim that the Mail ran a piece by La Platell earlier this month slagging him off for having a child after a "fleeting affair" because - in Grant's view - he was giving evidence to the committee of inquiry into the press.
Grant told the hearing: "Many of my friends, professors of journalism, said it is clearly a hatchet job because you are speaking against the tabloid press."
Platell is the former press officer for William Hague who caused a ruckus by recording a video diary about her time working for him while he was the Conservative leader. Since which time, she has written regularly for the Mail.
She was more than usually vitriolic about Grant in her 3 November column, describing him as an "oleaginous, womanising lounge-lizard". She also claimed that, despite "squiring a succession of women", he had had become "a lonely, bitter man consumed with hatred of the media..."
She concluded: "This week's news that he secretly fathered a child certainly puts into telling perspective his efforts to silence the Press by demanding privacy laws."
Grant could be accused of being paranoid for believing the "hatchet job" was retribution – or pressure – for speaking out against the tabloid press. But the possibility that Grant is being singled out for special treatment is supported by Brian Cathcart, lecturer in journalism at Kingston University, and founder of the anti-hacking website, Hacked Off.
Under a headline 'The Mail and Hugh Grant: flagrant intimidation', Cathcart wrote earlier this month: "The Mail's great broadside against Grant has nothing to do with morality and nothing to do with the perils of fatherhood outside wedlock. It is simply an act of intimidation."
Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, is no friend of Leveson. He claims the inquiry was set up by Cameron and his cohorts at the Commons because they want revenge on the media for exposing the great MPs' expenses fiddle.
Dacre said in evidence to the committee that he detected the "rank smells of hypocrisy and revenge in the political class's current moral indignation over a British press that dared to expose their greed and corruption…" He told Lord Leveson he should recommend Cameron to stick with self-regulation of the media.
Grant's allegations will make it more likely that MPs on all sides will decide that the time for self-regulation of the media is over. Dacre might have Platell's poison pen, in part, to thank for that.