Sienna Miller tells of fear due to phone-hacking
Sienna Miller, the British actor whose phone-hacking lawsuit against News Corporation helped trigger the demise of the News of the World tabloid, said yesterday she wrongfully accused friends and family of leaking information to the press.
Ms Miller suspected someone close to her was talking to journalists because the newspaper had information that only they knew, she told a judge-led inquiry into the British press. Only later did she discover phone-hacking was the source of the stories, she said.
I felt like I was living in some sort of video game with people kind of pre-empting every move I made as a result of accessing my private information.
"I feel terrible that I would even consider accusing people of betraying me like that," said Ms Miller, whose relationship with actor Jude Law drew press interest. "My paranoia and suspicion naturally spread to those around me."
Sienna Miller leaves after giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry in central London. Photo: AFP
Ms Miller, who accepted £100,000 ($US155,370) from News Corporation in June to end the lawsuit, says she might have also had her email hacked. The Metropolitan Police, who were ordered to disclose phone-hacking evidence in her case, arrested an unnamed 52-year-old man in Milton Keynes yesterday as part of their probe of computer hacking by the British press.
The actress said she was hounded so severely by the British press that she was living in a state of ''complete anxiety and paranoia.
Photographers engaged in ''highly illegal and dangerous'' driving and spat at her to get an emotional reaction, she said.
"For a number of years I was relentlessly pursued by 10 to 15 men, almost daily,’’ she said. ‘‘Spat at, verbally abused."
‘‘I would often find myself, at the age of 21, at midnight, running down a dark street on my own with 10 men chasing me. And the fact they had cameras in their hands made that legal.’’
Meanwhile, author JK Rowling also told the inquiry how she felt ‘‘under siege’’ from intrusive journalists, who staked out her house and even went so far as to slip a note into her five-year-old daughter’s school bag.
The creator of boy wizard Harry Potter said media interest began shortly after the publication of her first novel in 1997 and soon escalated, with photographers and reporters frequently stationed outside her home.‘‘It feels threatening to have people watching you,’’ she said.
Once, her daughter came home from primary school and Rowling found a letter from a journalist in the child’s backpack.
‘‘I felt such a sense of invasion,’’ Rowling said. ‘‘It’s very difficult to say how angry I felt that my five-year-old daughter’s school was no longer a place of complete security from journalists.’’
By the time her younger children were born in 2003 and 2005, Rowling said, the scrutiny was ‘‘like being under siege and like being a hostage’’.
Rowling was the latest in a string of prominent people to tell the inquiry about the distressing effect on their lives of intense press interest.
The inquiry also heard from Max Mosley, the former head of the world body for motor sport, who won a £60,000 breach-of-privacy award from the News of the World in 2008 for publishing the story on a Nazi-themed "orgy," along with a video, without contacting him. A judge ruled there was no Nazi theme and the story wasn't in the public interest.
"The problem is, if you breach privacy merely because you disapprove of what someone was doing or it was not to your taste, well, we would be all over the place because sexual behavior covers a huge variety of things," Mr Mosley said. "Where would it stop?"
In an account similar to those given by many phone-hacking ''victims'' at the inquiry led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson this week, Miller said she began accusing friends and family of selling stories to the press.
''It's outrageous, it's unfathomable to feel like they can justify doing this,'' she said. ''The effect it had on my life was really damaging for me and for my friends. It made it very difficult to leave the house … I felt violated and paranoid and anxious constantly.''
News Corporation closed the News of the World in July to help contain the five-year-old scandal after it was revealed the tabloid had hacked the phone of a murdered school girl in 2002, when she was still missing.
Ms Miller also said she feared for her safety as a result of photographers pursuing cars in which she was riding or chasing her on foot down dark streets. Photographers often showed up at locations after she discussed meeting someone on the phone, causing her to suspect hacking, she said.
"I felt like I was living in some sort of video game" with "people kind of pre-empting every move I made as a result of accessing my private information," Ms Miller said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called for the inquiry, led by Judge Brian Leveson, to scrutinise the relationship between the press and the public and determine if new regulations are needed.
Piers Morgan, the presenter of CNN's "Tonight" show and a former editor of the Daily Mir-ror, was scheduled to give testimony to the inquiry, Justice Leveson said.
Agencies, with Rachel Olding