Sienna Miller described what it was like to be pursued by photographers: ‘For a number of years I was relentlessly pursued by about ten to fifteen men almost daily, pretty much daily and, you know, anything from being spat at or verbally abused. I think that the incentive is really to get as strong a reaction as possible, so – you know, as other people have mentioned – but being jumped out at, when you get a shock, or saying things to kind of get some emotional reaction. They seemed to go to any lengths to try to upset you, which is really difficult to deal with.’ She went on: ‘I would often find myself – I was twenty-one – at midnight running down a dark street on my own with ten big men chasing me and the fact that they had cameras in their hands meant that that was legal, but if you take away the cameras, what have you got? You’ve got a pack of men chasing a woman and obviously that’s a very intimidating situation to be in.’
As part of an intensive operation against Charlotte Church, who was just sixteen when it began, the News of the World hacked her phone and the phones of her mother, Maria, and stepfather, James. They also hacked the phones of others in her small Welsh village, including that of the Parish Vicar.
Church said reporters ‘totally immersed’ themselves in her life and has alleged that the paper published thirty-three hacking-based news stories about her in four years. One story in 2005 revealed that her stepfather had had an affair and had taken cocaine. Shortly before that was published her mother, who had known about the affair and knew the article was being prepared, attempted to take her own life. Church told the inquiry: ‘It just had a massive, massive impact on my family life, on my mother’s health – which the News of the World had reported on before then – on her mental health state and her hospital treatment, which we also think the only way they could have known about that hospital treatment, etc., was either through the hacking or possibly through the bribing of hospital staff, etc. So they knew how vulnerable she was and still printed this story.’
In her written statement Church described the sequel: ‘The News of the World put a proposal to my mother. The proposal was that News of the World wanted an exclusive story of her breakdown, self-harming and attempted suicide in exchange for not printing a follow-up story about my father’s infidelity. My mother gave them the exclusive interview, which was published on 18 December 2005. She felt she had no choice other than to play by their rules. The follow-up story of my father’s sex life was then published in the People the next week anyway. This sequence of events drove my mother to additional self-harming and had a dramatic impact on her mental health. The havoc that the press have created within my family has been devastating.’