Shobna Gulati: Phone hacks led to son being bullied

Shobna Gulati leaves court after giving evidence against Mirror Group Newspapers. Picture: PA
Shobna Gulati leaves court after giving evidence against Mirror Group Newspapers. Picture: PA
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Actress Shobna Gulati has told the High Court that phone-hacking led to her son being bullied at school.

Ms Gulati, who played Sunita Alahan in Coronation Street, became emotional as she gave her evidence at a hearing to decide the amount of compensation to be awarded in eight representative cases brought against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).

The others involve TV executive Alan Yentob, actress Sadie Frost, ex-footballer Paul Gascoigne, soap stars Lucy Taggart and Shane Richie, flight attendant Lauren Alcorn and TV producer Robert Ashworth.

She told Mr Justice Mann in London that her phone started to be hacked from 2003, two years after she joined the soap opera, and at one point she wrote to the Press Complaints Commission after an article appeared in the Sunday Mirror about her “secret marriage”.

She said that the “salacious gossip” about her past affected her son who was nine at the time and he was bullied “quite extensively” the following day at school about who his father was. The article led to him having to leave when he was 14.

“I’m a single mum living on my own with my son. I believed it wasn’t in the public interest that the parentage of my child would be debated in a Sunday newspaper so I wrote this letter. I’ve always been very careful about answering questions about my son and had never been photographed with him until he was 18.”

Shocked at the story being in the paper and not knowing where the information had come from, she was concerned that her new partner had given the story.

“Obviously, given the evidence I have seen, he hadn’t, but I accused him and our relationship fell by the wayside.”

Ms Gulati said that when her son was 11, he ran away from home after another article appeared saying she had been “dumped” both by her lover and bosses at Coronation Street and might be going into the jungle for “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here”.

“I was in a very unsure position. My mother had also been seriously ill that year and, given I’m a single parent, my son was really concerned who was going to look after him if I was going into the jungle.”

The 48-year-old actress, who is currently appearing in Mamma Mia in Liverpool, said she had never been offered the reality show and was not going into the jungle, but humorously referred to the possibility on voicemails she left.

Ms Gulati said that she regarded a written apology she had received over the hacking at MGN as “hollow and disingenuous”.

She said she felt relieved when she found out about the hacking as she felt she was going “barking mad” and had mistrusted everyone.