July 7th, 2011
04:24 AM GMT
In an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, Grant urged the public and advertisers to boycott the Murdoch publication, News of the World, which is embroiled in an escalating controversy over allegations that reporters hacked into phones to listen to private messages.
News of the World, the world's top-selling English-language newspaper, is owned by News International, which also owns the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times in Britain. Murdoch's News Corps media empire also encompasses Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Harper Collins publishers.
“People can vote very much with their wallets - they just don’t have to buy these papers, especially the News of the World,” Grant said. “And advertisers have to look themselves very hard in the mirror and ask themselves, ‘Do we want to be advertising in papers like the News of the World?’”
Many advertisers are now asking that question. Carmakers Ford and Vauxhall, Virgin Holidays, Halifax and the Co-operative Group are among those to say they are withdrawing adverts that were scheduled to run in the newspaper.
Asked by Quest what advertisers should do, Grant said: “Do the right thing. If you look at the Internet there has been an enormous wave of goodwill towards Ford for having the courage, the spine and the conscience to do what’s right, and I think other companies would enjoy a similar wave of goodwill if they did the same.”
Responding to the phone hacking allegations, Murdoch's News Corp. said Wednesday: "We are committed to addressing these issues fully and have taken a number of important steps to prevent them from happening again."
“I think just like the government (other advertisers are) hoping to kick the thing somewhat into the long grass - a news event will come up, you know, and the pressure will die down,” Grant said. “That’s why it’s the job of rather unlikely people like me to keep the pressure up … it’s not going to come from politicians, it’s certainly not much going to come from the police.
“So as I say it’s left up to a few unlikely souls like myself – who will be slaughtered for what we’re doing,” said Grant, saying he expects more reprisals from tabloid press.
“They’ll dig up more dirt – and it’s never really difficult especially with me,” said Grant, whose 1995 arrest for soliciting a prostitute in 1995 was a tabloid sensation.
Now Grant has turned the tables of the tabloid press. “It began with just a personal grievance because I was a victim of phone hacking and then I had this extraordinary piece of luck,” Grant said, when he ran into an ex-features editor from the News of World. “He started boasting about hacking me, hacking everyone, all the dirty tricks of the news of the world, their sinister relationship with the Metropolitan Police, their relationship with the Prime Minister, and I thought it was all both fascinating and utterly repulsive.
“So subsequently I went back to see him, he now runs a pub in Dover, and I dropped in for a pint and a chat and bugged him … I was wearing a wire and got him talking all this stuff again.” The result was an article on the tactic in the British paper, the New Statesman.
“That was sort of the beginning of my obsession with this and my outrage because it's one thing for there to be a very bad newspaper in the country, but when you start to realize it's not one but all our tabloids who've been shockingly out of control for a long time,” Grant said. “When you realize how much collusion there's been from the police and how much collusion there's been from our lawmakers, from our government who need these tabloids, especially the Murdoch press to get elected.
“You start to think I'm not proud of my country anymore. This is not the democracy I thought I was proud of,” Grant said.
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