Getting to grips with . . .

Sienna Miller and The Sun: the scandal explained

Actress claims tabloid illegally sought medical records during her pregnancy

Sienna Miller has said The Sun “nearly ruined” her life after the newspaper found out she was in the early stages of pregnancy.

Addressing reporters after agreeing to a settlement with the newspaper’s publisher, the actor, who ultimately did not have the baby, said the tabloid came to know about the pregnancy “in the most vulnerable moment of my life”. 

Adding that she was forced to make decisions “about my own body that I have to live with every single day”, Miller reiterated her belief that the information was obtained illegally, adding that the newspaper had behaved as if it was “above the law”.

The allegations

Speaking outside the High Court, Miller described how her agent received a phone call from The Sun’s then editor, Rebekah Brooks, when she was in the early stages of pregnancy in 2005. 

Brooks’s call came prior to any information being released publicly and before the actor “had the opportunity to discuss the pregnancy with close friends and family”, The Guardian said.  

“It is a part of my case that [Brooks] assured those that represent me that she would not print that information,” Miller said. “And it is part of my case that she, the Sun, did print that information.”

The actor alleges that the newspaper obtained information relating to her early-stage pregnancy illegally through the use of a “blagger” named Christine Hart, citing invoices for “Sienns [sic] Miller Pregnant research”. 

Evidence disclosed in the settlement also revealed that the Sun journalist working with Hart claimed expenses using references including “SIENNA MILLER PREGNANCY RIDDLE” and “DINNER WITH TRACER (WHO CONFIRMED SIENNA WAS PREGNANT)”.

“In these proceedings, I learned first hand the extent to which that newspaper and this corporation will go to protect those at the top from being exposed and facing the consequences of their actions,” she said. “They very nearly ruined my life. 

“Their behaviour shattered me, damaged my reputation at times beyond repair, and caused me to accuse my family and friends of selling information that catapulted me into a state of intense paranoia and fear.

“I stand here in fellowship with the untold lives that have been destroyed by the Sun and News International.”

The response

Lawyers for The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), have objected to some parts of Miller’s statement, which they said created a “misleading and unfair” impression of the nature of the settlement, The Independent reported.

This includes the “allegation that when Miller was pregnant Brooks called the actor’s assistant to say she knew about the pregnancy”, the paper added.

Miller was speaking after agreeing to a settlement “made on the basis that there was no admission of illegal activity or phone hacking at the Sun”, The Guardian said. Brooks was cleared of phone hacking during a criminal trial in 2014.

Miller’s lawyers said that the settlement was “tantamount” to an admission of illegal activity, reported the BBC. “The size of the payout is confidential – but it may be one of the largest settlements by Rupert Murdoch’s organisation to victims of phone hacking,” said the broadcaster.

Addressing her decision not to pursue the paper in a full trial, Miller said: “It was not my choice to be standing here; I wanted to go to trial.

“I wanted to expose the criminality that runs through the heart of this corporation. A criminality demonstrated clearly and irrevocably by the evidence which I have seen. Unfortunately, that legal recourse is not available to me or to anyone who does not have countless millions of pounds to spend on the pursuit of justice.”

Adding that she wanted to “share News Group’s secrets just as they have shared mine”, she said that “until someone comes along who can confront the Murdoch’s endless means, all that I have left are these words. And they are the truth.”

A costly affair

Since the phone-hacking scandal led to the closure of the News of the World in 2011, NGN has settled a number of damages claims concerning unlawful information-gathering. But it has never admitted liability in relation to alleged phone hacking at The Sun.

The company has paid substantial sums to people who have made allegations of illegality at The Sun. These include former footballer Paul Gascoigne, who this week settled a similar claim over the newspaper’s reporting of personal medical information. 

Gascoigne said the stories had a “devastating and debilitating impact” on his “mental health and wellbeing”.

“Speculation is now turning to Prince Harry’s ongoing phone-hacking case against the publisher of The Sun”, The Guardian said, namely “whether he would be willing to potentially risk a major legal bill to force the case to trial”.

The Sun and Sun on Sunday newspapers revealed in 2020 that they lost £68m in the 12 months to July 2019, citing continued payouts to settle phone-hacking cases, as well as declining print sales.

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