Jude Law has accused Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid of illegally accessing his cell phone while he was on American soil, an allegation that could interest investigation in the U.S.
The claim about the News of the World was made during the phone-hacking trial in London where some of Murdoch’s most trusted lieutenants stand accused of breaking U.K. law in search of salacious stories for News Corp’s biggest-selling newspaper.
Law told the court that while he was in the U.S. filming Cold Mountain and Alfie, the phone numbers of his American agent and cell phones he had been given by the film studio appeared in the notebooks of a private investigator working for the News of the World. He said he was shown the list of numbers by police officers. “One of the numbers that appeared on the notes was an agent... and several other numbers I'd been loaned," he told the court. "They were able to follow me not just in this country but abroad as well.”
British police, with no subpoena power in the U.S., have been unable to gather telephone records that would show who had accessed Law’s voicemails. A potential investigation could leave News Corp, the parent company of the British papers, open to legal action in the U.S. So far, only News International in London has been exposed to legal difficulties following allegations that Murdoch’s British tabloid systematically hacked phones to gather information.
One of the most explosive stories published by the tabloid concerned an angry telephone exchange between Law and Daniel Craig, the James Bond star, who was having an affair with Law’s girlfriend, Sienna Miller. It was alleged that a member of Law’s close family was also being paid for information by the News of the World.
Law, who was wearing a gray suit and a blue spotted tie, said paparazzi photographers began following him around after he was Oscar-nominated for The Talented Mr. Ripley in 1999. “Over the following four or five years the daily appearance of packs of photographers either on the street or in cars became a very regular occurrence."
He recognized that was a quirk of his new found fame but became puzzled when the photographers seemed to regularly know what he was planning to do next. "I became aware that I was also turning up at places having arranged to go there secretly ... and the media were already there, or photographers were already there."
Law said he was subsequently played messages of his own voice by phone-hacking investigators, which included him making arrangements for his children.
The actor’s privacy was also allegedly being breached by a member of his own family who was leaking information to the News of the World for money in 2005, a lawyer acting on behalf of Andy Coulson, a former editor of the tabloid, told the court.
Law said he had known reporters had approached members of his family for information but said he had no idea until today that they were being paid to hand over secrets. "I have never been aware of that, getting paid for it," he said.
The trial continues.