Jude Law has told Britain’s phone hacking trial that for years the media had an “unhealthy” amount of information about his private life. But the actor said he was unaware until he heard it in court Monday that a close family member allegedly sold stories about him to the tabloid press.
Law appeared as a witness at the trial of two former editors of Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid — Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson — and five others on charges related to illegal eavesdropping. The defendants deny all the charges.
The “Sherlock Holmes” star was for years a favorite of Britain’s tabloid press, which reveled in details of his relationships with designer Sadie Frost and actress Sienna Miller.
Law said that his media profile rose after he was nominated for an Academy Award in 2001 for “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” From then on, he said, “there seemed to be an unhealthy amount of information” about him in the press, and he would often arrive at places with his children to find photographers already there.
Law, Frost and Miller are among scores of celebrities, politicians and others who have been paid compensation for phone hacking by Murdoch’s News Corp. Murdoch closed the News of the World in 2011 after details emerged of the scale of its snooping.
But a defense lawyer suggested Monday that some of the information in 2005 News of the World stories alleging an affair between Law’s then-girlfriend Miller and actor Daniel Craig might have had another source — Law’s associates.
“I didn’t know anyone around me was talking to the newspapers,” the 41-year-old actor said as he gave evidence for just over an hour at London’s Central Criminal Court.
Coulson’s lawyer, Timothy Langdale, asked Law if he knew that a member of his immediate family had been giving information to the News of the World in exchange for money.
“I was not aware of that,” Law said. Asked when he first heard of the allegation, Law said: “Today.”
Law was shown the name of the family member on a piece of paper. It was not shown to the jury or journalists.
The trial also heard evidence from former tabloid journalist Dan Evans, who has pleaded guilty to hacking phones while employed by the News of the World and, before that, rival tabloid the Sunday Mirror.
He said that while at the Sunday Mirror between 2003 and 2005, he was given the phone numbers of celebrities and told to “crack” them.
“Principally I was tasked with covering news events, investigations, undercover work, latterly with hacking people’s voicemail,” Evans said.
He later worked for the News of the World between 2005 and 2010.
Evans has pleaded guilty to hacking phones at both newspapers, and is appearing as a prosecution witness against his former colleagues.
The police investigation into phone hacking initially focused on Murdoch’s papers, but has spread to take in other companies, including Trinity Mirror PLC, which owns the Sunday Mirror and the Daily Mirror.
The Daily Mirror was edited between 1995 and 2004 by CNN interviewer Piers Morgan, who told a British inquiry into media ethics that he was not aware of any phone hacking while he was there. The head of the inquiry, judge Brian Leveson, called Morgan’s claim “utterly unpersuasive.”