Comedian Steve Coogan has told the inquiry into phone hacking that while he was no "paragon of virtue" he never entered into a "Faustian pact" with journalists, as he launched a stinging attack on the behaviour of the tabloid press.
Giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry into press ethics on Tuesday, Coogan said in his experience the tabloids were like the "mafia" and would go to great lengths to secure a good story.
He said he had been pursued by journalists for the last 10 years seeking to write various "kiss and tell" stories about, among other things, his relationships with women.
"I have never set myself up as a paragon of virtue. I do what I do and that's what I like to judged on, my work," he said.
"One could argue that there are those who make their career out of being famous and those people do enter into a Faustian Pact, where they use the press to raise their profile. They exploit the press for their own ends."
He added: "They are in the fame game."
Coogan, best know for the Alan Partridge character, said that journalists would go through his bins and phone family members pretending to be people they were not.
He told the inquiry that one journalist, Paul McMullan from the News of the World, admitted to him before they both appeared on Newsnight recently that he was one of the journalists who doorstepped him.
Coogan said: "He told me 'I used to sit outside your house' which is very nice to know."
The comedian also recounted one incident when he believed the News of the World went back on its word not to publish details about an affair he had.
Coogan said he was promised by journalist Rav Singh, who he considered "a casual friend", that the paper would omit the more lurid details of the story if the actor would confirm the basic facts.
According to Coogan the then editor of the paper, Andy Coulson, decided to go back on his reporter's word and run the story in full.
"It's like the mafia, it's just business," Coogan said.
Coogan said some form of privacy law should be introduced to protect "genuine public interest journalism".
"If the press suddenly have a damascene conversion and started to behave themselves that would be great … but that would perhaps me be being naive again," he said.
"Whatever is in place needs to be wieldy and people should be able to use it whether they have money or not."
He said: "For that reason there needs to be a privacy law so genuinely investigative journalism isn't besmirched by tawdry muckraking."
Coogan added: "None of these stories about me can be described as being in the public interest."
Earlier on Tuesday Elle Macpherson's former adviser Mary-Ellen Field recounted how she was fired after the supermodel wrongly believed she had leaked stories to the press about her private life.
The stories were later believed to have been obtained by journalists hacking into Macpherson's voicemail.
The inquiry also heard from former premier league footballer Garry Flitcroft, who said he believed the Sunday People had hacked his phone in order to obtain stories alleging he had extra-marital affairs.
22/11/2011 15:43 GMT
Leveson Inquiry closes for the day
Steve Coogan was the last witness for Tuesday. Tomorrow the Inquiry will hear from Sheryl Gascoigne, Gerry McCann, Mark Lewis and Tom Rowland, starting at 10am.
22/11/2011 15:37 GMT
Coogan: This is not the Steve and Hugh Show
In a final comment, Coogan tells Leveson why he (and Hugh Grant) have given evidence:"This is not the Steve and Hugh show. We're here because someone has to represent all those other people who haven't the stomach to be here...Of course, there is a personal element to it but it's not just about us, it's about other people."
22/11/2011 15:34 GMT
Coogan calls for meaningful punishment of the press
"Transgressions [by the media] need to be punished meaningfully. Some newspapers... can afford to take the hit."
22/11/2011 15:33 GMT
Coogan believes outside press regulation needed
"I wish there was no need for regulation outside of the press. I wish the press were able to regulate themselves but they have been given many opportunities and failed. If they had a Damascene conversion and behaved themselves that would be great, but I think that's me being naive again."
22/11/2011 15:29 GMT
Coogan talks of Daily Mail interview
@ Selkie :
Coogan talking about interview, published by the Daily Mail, he gave to a journalist who is a friend of his #leveson
22/11/2011 15:15 GMT
Coogan's views on privacy
Coogan made his position on privacy clear to Piers Morgan. He adds that he hasn't pursued some claims becasue he doesn't want to expend all his energy on such things. Also, the system of redress - legal action - is expensive. No confidence in the PCC's effectiveness either particularly when Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, sits on the Commission.
22/11/2011 15:07 GMT
Coogan discusses interview with Piers Morgan
Piers Morgan interviewed Coogan for GQ, Jan 2006, that was reprinted in 2011 to commemorate release of Alan Partridge memoirs. The interview was held in an 'excruciatingly trendy club in Soho'. "Yes, he chose the venue," Coogan jokingly replies to Jay.
22/11/2011 14:59 GMT
Coogan and article in Sunday Times
Coogan disappointed about interview with him in the Sunday Times. Hoped a more serious newspaper would have given a better impresison of him. Says he was 'naive' to think so. Also, upset about a picture of him and his children that accompanied the article.
22/11/2011 14:50 GMT
Coogan taslks about publicity appearances
Coogan discloses that he tries to "avoid publicity as much as possible" but has a publicist to help with appearances that may be contractually required. Repeats that he doesn't appear on panel shows, etc.
22/11/2011 14:48 GMT
Coogan: "My closet is empty of skeletons"
Coogan a 'little' concerned about giving evidence to Leveson because of possible consequences from the media. Other celebrities also 'fear what will happen' if they give evidence, he says, before adding that "my closet is empty of skeletons", so has less to fear.
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