What is Hugh Grant—yes, that Hugh Grant—doing in a book called The Best Business Writing 2012? Turns out the actor’s secretly recorded interview with Paul McMullan, a former News of the World reporter and paparazzo who blew the whistle on Murdoch phone hackers, was one of the year’s most memorable stories, according to The Audit, CJR’s indefatigable business crew: Dean Starkman, Martha M. Hamilton, Ryan Chittum, and Felix Salmon. Dean & Co. read widely—and wisely consulted the Twitterverse-—to compile the 31 selections in this book, the first in an annual series from Columbia University Press.

In Grant’s piece, originally published in The New Statesman, McMullan points fingers all the way up to Prime Minister David Cameron, and reveals little remorse. “Scanning never used to be a crime,” he says. “Why should it be? You’re transmitting your thoughts and your voice over the airwaves. How can you not expect someone to stick up an aerial and just listen in?” His advice to Grant? “I mean, if you don’t like it, you’ve just got to get off the stage. It’ll do wonders.”

“Absurdly,” Grant admits, “I felt a bit guilty for recording him.”

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Cyndi Stivers is a former editor in chief of CJR