“I saw them from my bedroom window,” he told the court. “They did not look like tramps – not far off.”

Best known for his character Alan Partridge, Coogan told the inquiry how he understood how aspects of both his personal and professional life could be of interest to the editors of tabloid newspapers but that this interest did not give them the right to invade his private life.

“I do not believe that gives them the right to hack my voicemail, intrude into my privacy or the privacy of people who know me, or print damaging lives,” he said.

He also denied the 2007 story that he took drugs with the US actor Owen Wilson, saying he had mot been on the same continent as the Wedding Crashers star for nine months prior to the alleged incident.

The inquiry also heard from other witnesses how tabloid invasions of their privacy had affected them.

Former Blackburn Rovers captain Garry Flitcroft said he believed media coverage of his infidelities had contributed to his father’s suicide and a business advisor to Elle Macpherson says she was fired for leaking secrets about the supermodel when in fact they had been obtained by journalists hacking her phone.