Hugh Grant in dispute over a handshake with the UK’s finance minister

Hugh Grant attends The Irishman International Premiere and Closing Gala in Leicester Square on October 13, 2019 in London, England.

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Actor Hugh Grant has become embroiled in an unlikely argument with the U.K.’s finance minister over a handshake — or the lack of one — at a movie premiere.

Grant, who is no stranger to controversy, reportedly refused to shake the hand of Sajid Javid at the event in London.

In a magazine interview published Thursday, Javid said he extended his hand to the Hollywood actor at the launch of Grant’s film “The Irishman.” He then said: “Lovely to meet you,” but the actor refused to shake his hand.

Javid said in the ES Magazine interview that he was shocked and thought it was “incredibly rude.” Grant said to him “I am not shaking your hand” before adding “When you were culture secretary you didn’t support my friends in Hacked Off,” according to the finance minister.

Hacked Off is a campaign group established in 2011 in response to a phone-hacking scandal in the British press. Grant himself was subjected to phone hacking by a British newspaper group and is a vociferous supporter of Hacked Off, which campaigns against media intrusion and stronger press standards.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid leaves 10 Downing Street in central London after attending the weekly Cabinet meeting on 29 October, 2019 in London, England.

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Grant hit back at the comments on Thursday, taking to Twitter to put across “my side of the story.”

He retweeted comments his spokesman had made to the PA News Agency rebuffing Javid’s version of events.

When offered a handshake, Grant’s spokesman reportedly said: “Grant’s words were ‘If you don’t mind, I won’t shake your hand because you were rude and dismissive to the victims of press abuse when you met them as culture secretary’.”
“Hugh would like to point out that the victims in question were not celebrities. They were people with personal family tragedies who had been abused by sections of the press,” the spokesman added. He said Grant had been referring to a meeting between Javid and “the victims of press abuse… (who) reported back that his attitude in the meeting was ‘borderline contemptuous’.”

Grant has had a fractious relationship with the press for decades not only for his work on the big screen. He has often been the subject of tabloid stories, hitting the headlines in 1995 after he was arrested and charged with indecent conduct in public with a prostitute.

He has often been the subject of newspaper stories for his personal relationships and had won several libel lawsuits against news outlets before the phone-hacking scandal.