Hugh Grant makes rare joke about 1995 sex worker scandal on The View

Hugh Grant laughed about his infamous 1995 sex scandal with the hosts of US talk show The View on Thursday (16 March).

Grant was arrested by Los Angeles police for participating in “lewd conduct” in a public place with a sex worker named Divine Brown. He was in a long-term relationship with actor/model Liz Hurley at the time.

On The View, host Sunny Hostin asked the 62-year-old actor about his campaigns against the British tabloid press.

“Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, well he’s just bitter because he got arrested with a hooker in 1995,’” Grant said to riotous laughter from the hosts and studio audience.

Hostin’s co-host Whoopi Goldberg interjected: “But you know what, really, who hasn’t?”

The actor then continued: “But actually it had nothing to do with that because that was never uncovered by tabloids. It was that the bloody police gave everyone the information. It was nothing to do with that.”

“These big newspaper owners – largely non-tax-paying newspaper owners – are living above the law and invading the privacy of people whose kids are being killed in a road accident or whatever to get the sensational article,” he said.

“No one dares to take them on in Britain because they’re so scared of them, especially the politicians. That’s why politicians, really in my country, are chosen by the press... That’s what my campaign is about.”

Grant’s arrest came one year after he shot to fame in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and he later called the incident a moment of “insanity”. He has rarely addressed it in the decades since.

In a statement at the time, Grant wrote: “I have hurt people I love and embarrassed people I work with. For both things I am more sorry than I can ever possibly say.”

The now-defunct News of the World reportedly paid Brown $100,000 for her story, which included her claim that Grant told her: “I always wanted to sleep with a Black woman. That’s my fantasy.”

When Hurley eventually broke her silence on the event, two months after Grant’s arrest, she said that “she felt like she had been shot” on hearing he had sex with a sex worker.

Grant was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 and go on an Aids education programme.

The actor has recently faced criticism for his “painful” red-carpet interview with Ashley Graham at the Oscars, which the model has since addressed.