22/11/2011 10:07 GMT | Updated 22/11/2011 11:27 GMT

Leveson Inquiry: Steve Coogan Says He Never Entered A 'Faustian Pact' With The Press

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.