Sienna Miller felt like she was “living in a video game” when stories were being published about her private life.
The British actress is the latest star to give evidence at the Leveson Inquiry in London, which is looking into allegations of phone hacking against several UK newspapers. British actors Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan have already testified about their experiences this week.
Sienna looked visibly nervous as she recalled constantly seeing stories surface about her life. She couldn’t understand why this was happening and longed for privacy.
“I think there wasn’t a circumstance that existed where I wasn’t hoping to have some privacy, but obviously in certain situations that was impossible. I think that what was more baffling was the fact that people found out before I had even arrived where I was going,” she said. “And so there was that feeling of people knowing absolutely everything about you. As I have said before it was really intimidating and scary and confusing. I felt like I was living in some sort of video game – people were pre-empting every move I made, obviously as a result of them accessing my private information.”
Sienna alleges that her phone calls were being listened to and her email account was hacked. As stories continued to surface about her, the 29-year-old began to suspect someone close to her was leaking information.
She admits to “feeling terrible” for accusing her loved ones and was shocked when she discovered her private conversations were being monitored.
“Of course [I was suspicious], especially when the information coming out was similar to what which I had said to specific people,” she said. “I felt terrible, there were people that had never done anything remotely public that had been under constant surveillance. It just seemed very crude, having initially been told there was no evidence and then receiving a stack of evidence of handwritten notes with dates referring to very personal things within my life.
“All my telephone numbers – the three that I changed in three months - and my access number, my pin numbers and my password which was later used to hack my email in 2008 was on these notes. Then there were a number of my friends – I think there was about ten phone numbers in total. So there was this web of surveillance which made it very easy to understand how they were getting all this information – everyone close to me was being monitored.”
Sienna also recalled one particular episode when a photograph was altered to paint her in a negative light.
She had been attending a charity ball for sick children and was playing with one young boy, when someone took a picture of her and it appeared in a British newspaper.
“There was a very sick child that I was playing with in the corner of the room and he was pretending to shoot me and I was pretending to die. We were playing a game and somebody took a photograph,” she explained. “The Mirror cut the boy out of the photograph and said that I was drunk. Obviously looking at these photographs they look – well it’s almost amusing – but they look awful and shocking. They were aware of the real situation so obviously I complained and I sued and I won. They printed an apology that was miniscule and irrelevant. But by that point the damage is done, if anybody in my line of work sees this photograph and hears I was behaving like that at a charity event it is just detrimental to my career and my reputation.”
Sienna feels a great deal of damage has been done to both her private and professional life. She experienced episodes of paranoia and said the intrusion left her feeling “violated”.
“It’s really hard to quantify in words,” she replied, when asked about the damage it has done to her life. “It is more the state of mind that you are in as a result of that level of intrusion and surveillance and interception – which is just complete anxiety and paranoia.
“I had to fight tooth and nail constantly to gain the freedom which I have managed to acquire now. The relationships that were damaged – there was a breeding of mistrust amongst all of us. It wasn’t just me accusing people; it was my mother accusing people, people accusing my mother.
“I felt very violated by this constant barrage of information that was being published – it was impossible to lead any kind of normal life at that time. And that was really difficult for a young girl.
“I am still waiting for the full disclosure, which is what I really want. So far it has been very unsatisfactory. I will continue to wait for it but it has been a long process so far.”
Earlier this year, Sienna was awarded £100,000 in compensation after the News of the World accepted unconditional liability for her phone-hacking claims.
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