Newspaper stories that Prince Harry claims are of phone hacking actually come from other members of the royal family and even from his own interviews, the High Court heard yesterday.
The Duke of Sussex is suing the publisher of the Daily Mirror, alleging that it fell victim to illegal information gathering, such as phone hacking.
But the editor told the judge that many of the stories actually came from other royals or palace courtiers, and that one of the articles he complains about was based on an official interview Harry gave himself. .
The newspaper denies hacking into Harry’s phone, setting the stage for a courtroom showdown with the duke, who will become the first British royal since 1890 to testify in court.
He is scheduled to appear on the witness stand in the case early next month to be questioned about his claims that he was repeatedly hacked by Mirror Group Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and The People.
Pictured: Prince Harry (file photo). The Duke of Sussex is suing the publisher of the Daily Mirror, alleging that he was the victim of illegal information gathering, such as phone hacking.
He was not in court yesterday, but his lawyer, David Sherborne, claimed he was the victim of “industrial scale” hacking between 1995 and 2011. The judge has been shown 33 articles said to come from a compilation of illegal information.
But Andrew Green KC of the publisher told the court that “many came from information released by or on behalf of royal houses or members of the royal family”, from independent journalists or confidential sources “with extensive royal contacts”. Green said that in one case a story he complained about stemmed from “an official interview given by the Duke of Sussex himself.”
The newspaper began the trial yesterday by apologizing to Harry for an occasion when The People newspaper paid a private investigator to gather information about the prince’s conduct at Chinawhite, a celebrity nightclub in Soho, in 2004.
Green added that the £75 fee paid “suggests there was little work involved” but that Harry, pictured, was “entitled to compensation for this incident”, despite the fact that he had not actually included the item in his claim. Harry says the alleged illegal activities caused him “great distress” and created “a great deal of paranoia in my relationships.”
Pictured: Members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Place watch the flight after Trooping the Color in June 2019 (file photo)
He claims that Mirror Group journalists even managed to book him into a hotel on Bazaruto, a small island off Mozambique, where he was staying with his then-girlfriend, Chelsy Davy. During the case, witnesses called to testify will include Omid Scobie, a journalist who wrote a gushing biography of Harry and Meghan. The prince is one of four plaintiffs in the case against Mirror Group. The others are Coronation Street actors Nikki Sanderson and Michael Turner and comedian Paul Whitehouse’s ex-wife, Fiona Wightman.
The Mirror case is one of three High Court actions Harry is bringing against UK newspapers. He is suing the editor of the Daily Mail, which denies all of his claims, and the editor of The Sun.
The last time a prince went to court was in the 1890 Baccarat libel case, when the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, testified about a card game he had played in which another player was accused of cheating.