Hugh Grant with Paul McMullan

Picture: Paul McMullan disputes Hugh Grant’s claim that the photographer agreed not to publish this picture

Picture credit: Paul McMullan

A photographer who was secretly recorded by Hugh Grant claims the actor knew all along that the paparazzo planned to publish the picture that triggered the stunt.

Paul McMullan yesterday told Amateur Photographer (AP) that Grant fully expected the image to be published in the Sunday newspapers, contrary to what the actor wrote in the New Statesman magazine earlier this month.

?He knew I was a scummy pap. It?s b******s,? McMullan told AP.

Hugh Grant caused a media sensation when he turned tables on McMullan, a former News of the World photographer and journalist known for his whistle-blowing role in the tabloid?s phone-hacking scandal.

The actor secretly bugged a conversation he had with McMullan, during which the journalist revealed more details on phone hacking and those allegedly involved.

In an article about the encounter, Grant hinted that the bugging operation was fuelled by a photo of him with McMullan that was taken after the journalist had given the actor a lift.

Grant claimed that McMullan had agreed not to publish the picture after the star?s Ferrari had conked out in a remote part of Kent shortly before Christmas.

It was the actor?s disbelief at this apparent breach of trust that prompted Grant to secretly record the photographer.

The image ended up in the Mail on Sunday the following weekend.

In a bid to get the photographer?s side of the story, AP telephoned McMullan at the Dover pub which he owns and where the infamous interview by Hugh Grant took place.

Is this a wind-up?

Initially, McMullan seemed surprised by a call from AP?s news desk and somewhat wary of our intentions. ?Is this a wind-up?? he asked.

Satisfied with our credentials, McMullan seemed more than happy to talk.

So, had he agreed not to publish the photo, as the actor famously claimed in the New Statesman?

Far from it, it seems.

He claims the Notting Hill star was left in no doubt about where the photo would end up.

McMullan said that when the pair arrived at their destination, a golf club, he had asked: ?Can I get a club pro to take a picture of us shaking hands to put on the wall of the


When Grant agreed to the shot, McMullan said he told the actor he expected the picture to fetch ?three or four thousand pounds?.

The photographer explained that, the day he had given Grant a lift, he had been using a Canon EOS 50D DSLR and a 15-year-old 70-200mm f/2.8 L-series lens, which he always keeps in his car.

?It [the 50D] is good enough, though not a 100% pro camera,? he told us, adding that he also had with him a Sigma 17-70mm zoom.

McMullan said he was highly impressed with the Canon and Sigma kit, unlike the actor, who had reacted with fury when McMullan used his camera to pap Grant through the window of his Ferrari earlier on.

McMullan has made his fortune from taking such pictures and suggested Grant should really have known better.

The photographer revealed that he paid ?cash? for the Castle Inn, the Dover pub which he bought last July.

And he is not shy of saying where the money came from.

?I bought it thanks to Brad Pitt and Paul McCartney?s ex, Heather Mills,? he told us.

McMullan said he was paid ?£40,000? for pictures of Brad Pitt in the south of France.

It has now emerged that Grant secretly recorded his conversation with McMullan using a device built into a pen. It was reportedly used by a friend who was listening into the conversation nearby, while pretending to do a crossword.


Hugh Grant bugs paparazzo


Hugh Grant at Castle InnHugh Grant at the Castle Inn, Dover, where he bugged Paul McMullan using a hidden recording device

Picture credit: Paul McMullan

Hugh Grant's car breaks downBefore giving Hugh Grant a lift, McMullan used a Canon EOS 50D to photograph the actor after his Ferrari had broken down

Picture credit: Paul McMullan