By Graham Johnson
Editor, Byline Investigates
SADIE Frost is considering legal action against the Mail on Sunday over emails it holds containing illegally intercepted transcripts of her personal voicemails, as revealed in a Byline Investigation.
The 53-year-old actor is in discussion with a leading London law firm specialising in media privacy litigation after a story on this website exposed the newspaper’s secret links to phone hacking.
After reading our story, Ms. Frost told us exclusively: “There was no public interest justification for any of this snooping and hacking, and I will be taking legal advice.”
She added: “I am upset to hear the Mail on Sunday was discussing my private voicemails with phone hackers, with a view to writing a story about me and my family’s personal business.”
We revealed on Tuesday how Britain’s biggest mid-market weekend publication – which continues to deny any involvement in the unlawful eavesdropping practice – was sent emails laden with stolen details of Ms Frost’s private life.
The highly sensitive information had been gleaned from messages Ms. Frost and her ex-husband actor Jude Law left on the the voicemails of their former nanny Jade Schmidt, by convicted hacker Glenn Mulcaire and passed to the MoS by co-conspirator Greg Miskiw.
Now the two have turned whistle-blower to contradict six years of denials of wrongdoing by the million-a-week-selling paper’s Editor-in-Chief Paul Dacre, its legal managers, and its Managing Editor John Wellington.
The effects of the hacking on Ms. Frost were significant – leaving the parent-of-four suffering anxiety and depression and wrongly suspecting her own mother of selling stories on her.
She has told how hacking by tabloids, including the News of the World and rivals Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), put her through “living hell”.
Until our story, Ms. Frost did not know she was also targeted for the Mail on Sunday – edited at the time by Peter Wright (pictured below) – mainly for her connections to the so-called ‘Primrose Hill’ set of celebrities such as Mr. Law and her friend the model Kate Moss.
In 2015, Ms. Frost was awarded £260,250 in damages for ‘tortious information gathering’ at the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People newspapers, a record amount for a damages award on a privacy case.
Their owner, MGN admitted writing 27 stories about her between 2003 and 2006 derived from hacked voicemails.
In January 2012, Ms. Frost had received £50,000 in a settlement from Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers – owners of the News of the World and The Sun – for hacking between 2003 and 2006.
In March 2015, she told the High Court during proceedings against MGN how the illegal news-gathering had affected her life, causing her to fall out with Ms. Moss – her best friend – and question her trust in her family.
Ms. Frost, star of 26 feature films, said she became a nervous wreck and was afraid to leave the house for fear of being pursued by photographers.
“It is difficult to explain the damage this has done to me. For many years, I was in a living hell,” she said in a witness statement.
“I was suffering from depression, anxiety and regular panic attacks. I found it hard to leave the house and, if I finally made myself, I was followed… or they [the photographers] would turn up where I was going. This made my anxiety even worse.”
Ms. Frost said her children’s lives were also impacted by paparazzi attention every time she left the house.
In the witness box, she said: “I was somebody trying to pull my life back together and these articles were coming out every day, which affected my work, my family and me as a mother.
“I couldn’t take my son to the park for two years because every time I did I was photographed. He would be crying and get upset and I would have panic attacks.”
She described being ambushed by photographers as she left an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting as “the lowest of the low” and a “nightmare”, comparing it to the time a photographer turned up at her father’s funeral.
“I was so unhappy that I found it difficult to sleep and eat – and this got reported in the papers. Absolutely nothing was left alone,” she said.
“I thought it would be good for me to stop drinking, so I went to AA – and MGN published that as well. I had nowhere to turn to as the Press was in every area of my life.”
Retreating into the house to escape the constant attention, Ms. Frost said she “became what the papers were saying about me. I became a wreck.”
Byline Investigates has put detailed questions to the Mail on Sunday about the Anderson emails, but it has not responded either to those or to our January 1 story.
However, Mr. Wellington said at the time: “Neither Chris Anderson nor the Mail on Sunday have ever knowingly used information that was illegally acquired by Greg Miskiw.”
- More on this subject here, here, and here