Phone hacking: The Mirror ruined Steve McFadden’s love life, drove Paul Gascoigne to alcohol but murdered no-one
The phone hacking scandal calls EastEnders actor Steve McFadden. He says Daily Mirror stories while he was romancing co-star Lucy Benjamin (above) “destroyed” their love affair.
McFadden is at the High Court to help the judges decide the amount of compensation to be awarded against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN). The trial will determine the range of phone hacking and the amount of damages due.
MGN has admitted “an unwarranted and unacceptable intrusion into people’s private lives”. It has set aside £12m for compensation. In July 2014, Trinity Mirror said in its interim statement that it had set aside £4m for phone-hacking civil claims. The price of justice rises.
McFadden tells the High Court that he had thoughts of marrying Benjamin (now known as Lucy Taggart) but the stories gave him second and third thoughts:
“But the biggest factor that stopped me was thinking that Lucy had a big mouth and was giving out information.”
“I now know that messages I left for Lucy must have been heard by MGN’s journalists. Although I find this appalling, in some senses, I am relieved to finally know why and how so much information came out about me and Lucy. The sad thing is that you can’t turn back the clock on what I thought and accused Lucy of at the time, which was that she was betraying me.”
Doesn’t that say more about him than the Mirror?
McFadden added that Lucy blamed the tabloid paper for “putting her out of work” and making her “unemployable”. He thinks “she was right!”
Incidentally, the Mirror makes not a single menion of phone hacking in today’s newspaper. But, then, neigther does the Sun.
Others in the witness box are Coronation Street star Shobna Gulati, EastEnders star Shane Richie, Sadie Frost, the BBC creative director Alan Yentob, and TV producer Robert Ashwortt, Lucy Taggart and flight attendant Lauren Alcorn (an ex-girlfriend of footballer Rio Ferdinand). She has told the court:
“I was just a very young girl, living with my mum, as my father had passed away the year before. My relationship with Rio was on and off for several years until about 2006. During this time, Rio also had a relationship with his now wife, who is also the mother of his children.
“Looking back on it now with the benefit of hindsight, that period represents a time in my life that I regret and am very embarrassed about.
“However, I was a young, naive and emotionally vulnerable 19-year-old who got wrapped up with a young man that I thought had feelings for me and vice versa.
“I have never wanted any publicity and see myself as a private individual although I was eventually forced into the public eye because of what happened to me…
“I think it’s quite shocking really to see the extent of it. I’m a very private person and I never never wanted to be in the public eye. Even walking into court today is my worst nightmare.
“To know that all my personal information is being listened to over so many years, such private and personal things – talking about my father, things which wouldn’t have been of interest of anybody – were being listened to.”
Also on the stand is Paul Gascoigne, the former England and Spurs footballer whose life has been tabloid fodder for decades.
He says he fell out with his fmaily after suspecting them of sellign stories on him:
“I knew my phone was getting hacked, I could tell. And someone was listening to my conversations and where I was going and that and so I went to the spy shop in London. I spent about £60,000 on gadgets,”
He says the hacking was so bad it’s little wonder he became an alcoholic.
As for the journalists, the Press Gazette adds up:
Eight national newspaper Trinity Mirror journalists have been arrested under police operations stemming from the phone-hacking scandal.
Four were arrested over alleged phone-hacking and remain on bail. Dan Evans pleaded guilty to phone-hacking at the Sunday Mirror and News of the World. He admitted to accessing the voicemails of some 200 individuals while he was working at the papers between 2003 and 2010.
Two other former Mirror journalists have been charged – one with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office and the other with corruption, conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office.
The eighth Mirror journalist has been cleared after arrest on suspicion of corruption and conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office.
Do we feel sorry for them? We should do. Because the hype around phone hacking has been as sensational as the most shouty tabloid headline. It was John Cleese who said with a straight face thgt the guilty are on a par with murderers:
“Builders, accountants, murderers, they’d all like to regulate themselves… The murderers would make a very good case – they’d say we murdered a lot of people, we know people who have murdered people. We really are best qualified to regulate.”
Murder? No. The only thing anyone is trying to kill is press freedom. Hacking is a crime. It’s being punished. But don’t let it be used to support State-backed regulation to silence the Press…