Newspaper reports that Prince Harry’s claims were due to phone hacking actually came from colleague’s Royal family and even his own interviews, the Supreme Court heard yesterday.
The Duke of Sussex is suing the publisher of the Daily Mirror, alleging that he was the victim of unlawful information gathering, including through phone hacking.
But the publisher told the judge that many of the stories actually came from other kings or palace courtiers – and that one of the articles he was complaining about was based on an official interview Harry himself had given.
The newspaper denies having hacked Harry’s phone, setting the stage for a courtroom altercation with the Duke, who will be the first senior British king to testify in court since 1890.
He is due to take the witness stand early next month and be questioned about his claims that he has been repeatedly hacked by Mirror Group Newspapers, publishers of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People.
He was not in court yesterday, but his attorney David Sherborne claimed he was the victim of an “industrial-scale” hack between 1995 and 2011. The judge was presented with 33 articles allegedly stemming from illegal information gathering.
But Andrew Green KC, on behalf of the editor, told the court that “much came from information disclosed by or on behalf of royal households or members of the royal family”, from freelance journalists or confidential sources “with extensive royal contacts”.
Mr Green said in one case an impugned story came from “a documented interview conducted himself by the Duke of Sussex”.
Yesterday, the newspaper began the process by apologizing to Harry for an incident when The People newspaper paid a private investigator to gather information about the prince’s behavior at Chinawhite, a celebrity nightclub in Soho, in 2004.
Mr Green added that the £75 fee paid suggests little work was required, but that the Harry pictured is “entitled to compensation for this incident” although he does not actually include the item in his claim. Harry says the alleged unlawful activities caused him “great distress” and created “a great deal of paranoia in my relationships.”
He claims Mirror Group journalists even managed to book a hotel in Bazaruto, a small island off Mozambique, where he was staying with then-girlfriend Chelsy Davy.
During the case, Omid Scobie, a journalist who wrote a gushing biography of Harry and Meghan, will be among the witnesses called to testify. The Prince is one of four plaintiffs in the Mirror Group case.
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 Supreme Court cases Harry is bringing against British newspapers. He is suing the editor of the Daily Mail, who disputes all his claims, and the editor of The Sun.
The last time a prince went to court was in the Baccarat libel case of 1890, when the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, testified about a card game he had played in which another player was accused of cheating.