Prince Harry this week became the first high-ranking British royal to take the witness stand in more than 130 years in a court case over alleged phone hacking by British media group MGN.
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Prince Harry this week became the first senior British royal to take the stand in more than 130 years to seek justice for himself and wife Meghan Markle after what the British press described as years of persecution.
Harry – the youngest son of King Charles III, who descended from royal duties in 2020 — spent a day and a half giving evidence at London’s High Court over claims he was illegally targeting Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) titles, including through phone hacking.
MGN denied using illegal methods to obtain information about the prince.
The 38-year-old, who was represented in court by lawyer David Sherborne, claimed the intrusions lasted for 15 years, from when he was a child until his mid-twenties, ruined his adolescence and ruined relationships, including with ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy.
Although the allegations predated his relationship with Meghan, Harry told the court he was motivated to bring the case after a chance meeting with Sherborne when they discussed ways to “stop the abuse, the rubbing and the hatred that has been heaped on me and my wife.” .”
Prince Harry is one of more than 100 plaintiffs, including actors and actresses, who are suing MGN over allegations of illegal information gathering over two decades from 1991 to 2011.
The group alleges that MGN’s senior editors and managers were aware of and encouraged wrongdoing, including phone hacking – the illegal interception of voice messages.
MGN, publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, has previously admitted its titles were responsible for phone hacking. But MGN lawyer Andrew Green said there was no evidence to show Harry was the victim.
Green described the allegations as “total speculation” and said some of the information published in the paper came from senior Buckingham Palace advisers, while other stories were based on details that had already been published.
Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) lawyer Andrew Green said there was no evidence to show Prince Harry was the victim of phone hacking.
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However, Harry said intimate details of his split with Davy and the row they had over a visit he made to a strip club were not public and were instead obtained through phone hacking and a tracking device on her car.
The prince also broke royal protocol when he said he believed the British government and media had hit “rock bottom” and suggested his mother, Princess Diana, had been the victim of phone hacking before her death in a car crash in 1997.
“I believe phone hacking was on an industrial scale in at least three newspapers at the time and that’s beyond doubt,” Harry told the court.
“To have a decision against me and all the other people who come to me with their claims, given that the Mirror Group accepted the hacking … I would feel a certain injustice,” he added.
Harry’s testimony, which ended on Wednesday, is part of a seven-week trial due to end in June, with a verdict expected later this year.
The suit is one of a series of wrongdoing cases brought by the prince against British news groups, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers and Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail.
British tabloids have a long history of using phone hacking and illegal means to get stories. In 2011, Murdoch-owned News International was found guilty of this practice within the now-defunct News of the World and other British newspapers.
Since then, other documents have been implicated in similar practices.
In April, it was revealed that Harry’s brother, Prince William, had settled down claims of phone hacking against Murdoch’s UK newspaper arm in 2020 for a “very large sum” after a secret deal struck with Buckingham Palace.