Leveson Inquiry: Actress Sienna Miller gives evidence
- 24 November 2011
- From the section UK
Actress Sienna Miller has told the inquiry into media ethics how she blamed friends and family when personal information appeared in the press.
Lord Justice Leveson is hearing from alleged victims of press intrusion at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
Ms Miller formally settled for £100,000 in damages and costs earlier this year after the News of the World hacked into several of her mobile phones.
Celebrity lawyer Mark Thomson also gave evidence to the inquiry.
A witness known only as HJK, who had a relationship with an unnamed celebrity, earlier gave evidence, but the media and public were barred from the hearing as their identity is protected by a court order.
Ms Miller has appeared in films including Alfie, Layer Cake and Stardust, and has been the subject of media attention for her relationships with partners such as actor Jude Law.
The actress described to the inquiry incidents of media driving illegally while following her and said she had been pursued by 10 to 15 men on a daily basis who abused her and did anything to get "an emotional reaction".
She questioned why having a camera made it legal for people to chase her. "I would often find myself - I was 21 - at midnight running down a dark street," she said.
'I accused someone'
Ms Miller said that when personal stories began appearing in the media in 2005 and 2006, she began questioning those close to her, previously having felt "very protected".
"I'm very lucky I have a very tight group of friends and a very supportive family," she said.
Ms Miller said the media's intrusion had left her in a state of "complete anxiety and paranoia".
In one instance, the actress said she had gathered people in a room to question them after a story emerged based on something only four people knew about. "I accused someone in that room of selling a story."
Ms Miller told the inquiry that she had felt terrible when she realised no-one had betrayed her. She said it was "unfathomable" that someone could feel comfortable hacking phones.
"The effect that it had on my life was really damaging to me and to my family and friends," she said.
"Nobody could understand how this information was coming out," she said, "it was impossible to lead any kind of normal life at that time and that was very difficult for a young girl."
'Fight tooth and nail'
Ms Miller said it was "very daunting" to take action against News of the World, but decided that she had to after seeing evidence provided by the police. "News International was richer and more powerful than I would ever be."
Ms Miller discussed a photo that had been published in the Mirror and cropped to imply she had been drunk, when she had actually been playing with a sick child. She said its publication could have detrimentally impacted on her career.
"The fact that they knew that they would be sued and would have to pay damages was not really a deterrent," she said.
Ms Miller said she had to "fight tooth and nail, constantly" to gain the freedom she said that she now enjoyed.
In his evidence, Mark Thomson - who has represented actors including Ms Miller, Jude Law and Hugh Grant as well as singer Lily Allen - argued for a stronger regulatory system for the press.
"I really don't think that just a few adjustments to the PCC (Press Complaints Commission) will work," he said. "Some of the worst offenders are photographic agencies and paparazzi and the PCC can't control them."
Mr Thomson said what was needed was a body with regulatory powers which could deal with journalists anywhere in the country.
"A PCC with a few extra teeth isn't going to work in my view."
Mr Thomson said that the media undermined claimants by "trashing" them and chastising them for complaining.
He said the "sniping" was practiced widely in the press and not just by the tabloids.
He also described a practice he called "story laundering", to get around privacy laws.
"I have firm evidence and inferences and anecdotal evidence from other lawyers but if I go into the details I will breach injunctions. One client the story was laundered - it was planted in America and then reported it a week later, saying the US press have reported it so we can report it. That's what I call story laundering."
Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry is looking at the "culture, practices and ethics of the media" and whether the self-regulation of the press works.
A second phase of the inquiry will commence after the conclusion of a police investigation into News of the World phone hacking and any resultant prosecutions. It will examine the extent of unlawful conduct by the press and look at the police's initial hacking investigation.