Private investigator tells John Cleese what he learnt about him

A private investigator has revealed to John Cleese that he found him to be “kind of boring” as he discussed how he would be hired to gather information on high profile figures.

Daniel Portley-Hanks, now retired, worked in the field for more than 40 years and gave evidence earlier this year at the High Court as part of the Duke of Sussex case about hacking.

Appearing on an upcoming episode of Cleese’s GB News series The Dinosaur Hour, he discussed how he previously had investigated the 84-year-old Fawlty Towers actor for newspapers.

Discussing how he operated, Portley-Hanks claimed: “I was a private investigator and whenever a story was breaking I had to track that person down so they (the UK newspapers) could go and interview them or contact them.

“I never advertised at all, journalists in London started calling me and asking me to locate people and do background checks on them and to find out everything.”

He said he would make 250,000 dollars (£206,000) a year as he built a reputation that he could “find out everything about anybody”, claiming that he has the social security numbers for the five last US presidents and “all of their data”.

When asked by Cleese what he found out about him, Portley-Hanks said: “You’re actually kind of boring, John.

“They (the media) were very interested in one of your wives down in Texas.”

Cleese also spoke to former Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? host Chris Tarrant about his experience with phone hacking.

Tarrant said: “I just thought it was a rubbish phone that I was using. But then when I split from my wife, I mean it became just open season.

“They were everywhere. They were trying to get at my children. They were obviously trying to talk to my ex…

“It was only later that I began to realise this hacking lark was actually taking place on my phone.

“I had never heard of it. I thought it was something that happens to somebody else, and that happens in Hollywood.”

Chris Tarrant
Chris Tarrant spoke of his experiences of phone hacking (PA)

The TV star also spoke about how it affected his relationship with his long-term personal chauffeur Jim as he initially thought he was responsible for the information leak.

He described his chauffeur as a “lovely guy” who was one of his “closest friends” after working with him for more than 20 years but said things got tense amid the hacking period.

He recalled: “There was one particular night when I was separated, I took a lady out. I met her for a drink, so we went for dinner and there were photographers everywhere we went.

“And this carried on through the night and through the next morning when I took her to work and so on.

“That evening we’d done Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? up at Elstree and when we were driving home, I said to Jim, ‘I can’t understand this. How did they know so much detail about where I was going?’ I mean, it was quite extraordinary because the only person I talked to was Jim on the phone.

“Jim turned to me, a great big lump, with tears in his eyes. He said, ‘you’ve got to think that’s me.’ And I said, ‘you know, I love you mate. I do think it was you. It can’t, it’s nobody else, no other explanation’.

“Our relationship was pretty grim for quite a long time. It’s a guy I love, I trusted this guy literally with everything. And he knew so much about me because we spent hundreds of hours together driving late at night from TV studios.”

He added: “I didn’t trust anybody. It was a horrible time. I mean, it also became a kind of sport because they were just everywhere.”

The episode will be aired on Sunday October 29.