Prince Harry arrives at High Court for battle with MGN over phone hacking
The Duke of Sussex has stoked a political storm by slamming the government and the press as at “rock bottom” as he gives evidence in his landmark case against the Daily Mirror’s publisher at the High Court in London.
In his 55-page witness statement, Prince Harry targeted the tabloid press more broadly when he questioned: “How much more blood will stain their typing fingers before someone can put a stop to this madness?”
The Duke of Sussex is suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for damages, claiming journalists at its titles – which also include the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People – were linked to methods including phone hacking, so-called “blagging” or gaining information by deception, and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.
The duke had been expected to arrive at court on Monday but is now testifying on Tuesday, becoming the first prince to appear in court for 130 years.
This comes as it has been revealed Harry is battling on another front as his US visa is set to be challenged in court after he admitted illegal drug use in his memoir Spare.
Harry laughs as asked to ‘raise his voice but not in anger’ in court
As the judge returned to court after a short break, the duke’s barrister David Sherborne said he’d been asked on behalf of a number of people in court and watching proceedings remotely if Harry could “raise his voice”.
Harry then laughed as Andrew Green KC, for MGN, joked: “I hope not raise it in anger.”
Tara Cobham6 June 2023 11:59
Harry rejects lap dance rumours
The Duke of Sussex promised his then-girlfriend Chelsy Davy in 2006 that he was not given a lap dance at the Spearmint Rhino club, he said in his witness statement.
Referring to a story in The People in April 2006 which said Miss Davy had gone “berserk” and slammed the phone down on Harry over the night out, the duke said: “I don’t think Chelsy did go mad about me going there.
“We did speak about it over the phone, but I promised her that I hadn’t had a lap dance and stayed with the three other cadets that had girlfriends.”
The duke said he believed journalists had access to one of their phone records and “put two and two together to make a story”.
Tara Cobham6 June 2023 11:58
’18 years old is so young to feel constantly suspicious of everyone around you’
The Duke of Sussex has said he now sees “how much of my life was wasted on this paranoia” which he attributes to the actions of MGN.
Harry said in his witness statement that articles which claimed to have comments from people close to him “contributed to the general feeling of paranoia that I was so used to living with, a feeling of not being able to trust anybody”.
He continued: “It’s bad enough at any age, but looking back, 18 years old is so young to feel constantly suspicious of everyone around you.”
The duke added that at different points he “doubted the loyalty” of people around him including his former nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke and former royal equerry Mark Dyer.
He continued: “It’s only now, realising what the defendant’s journalists were doing and how they were getting their information, that I can see how much of my life was wasted on this paranoia.
“I’ve always heard people refer to my mother as paranoid, but she wasn’t.
“She was fearful of what was actually happening to her and now I know that I was the same.”
Tara Cobham6 June 2023 11:56
Mr Green questions duke about ‘Diana so sad on Harry’s big day’ article
Mr Green questioned the duke about a Daily Mirror article publisher in September 1996 entitled “Diana so sad on Harry’s big day”.
The court heard that Harry has complained about the article containing details of his feelings regarding the divorce of his parents and the ill health of a family friend.
The MGN barrister said the duke was first issued with a mobile phone when he went to Eton in 1998, putting it to Harry that the 1996 article could not have involved phone hacking.
Harry replied: “That’s incorrect. My security at school had a separate room with a land line.”
He said “most Sunday nights”, after being dropped off by his mother “the first thing we would do is to use the phone to ring her… in floods of tears”.
Harry also said it could have been his mother who was hacked, but Mr Green replied “that’s just speculation you’ve come up with now”.
Mr Green said the article reported that Harry at the time was “believed to be taking the royal divorce badly”, with the duke replying: “Like most children I think, yes”.
The barrister said such information was not saying anything that was not “pretty obvious”.
The duke said there was “no legitimacy” in putting such information in the newspaper, adding that “the methods in which it was obtained seem incredibly suspicious”.
Tara Cobham6 June 2023 11:54
Andrew Green probes Harry on claims MGN contributed to paranoia
The Duke of Sussex faced questions from Mr Green about claims in his witness statement that MGN’s alleged intrusion into his life contributed to “a huge amount of paranoia”.
Mr Green asked Harry how he had such feelings if he was not aware of articles published in relation to him at the time.
The Duke said he would be “speculating” if he said which articles he had read and which he had not.
Harry added: “In my experience, the vast majority of the quotes were attributed to a pal, a friend, a source, an onlooker, which actually creates more suspicion”.
The duke said he started to re-examine articles when he “realised information had been unlawfully obtained”.
Tara Cobham6 June 2023 11:51
Harry addresses accusations of lashing out at photographer
In his witness statement, the Duke of Sussex described an incident with a paparazzi photographer in October 2004.
Harry, then 20, was accused at the time of lashing out at a photographer in a scuffle outside a nightclub and photos of the incident appeared in the press.
Harry said: “This was a particularly challenging period of my youth. I had just turned 20, and like most 20 year-olds, I wanted to go out and socialise. However, everywhere I went, the paparazzi seemed to turn up…”
He added: “As I reached the car, I could hear taunting. I was being egged on for a reaction, knowing I’d been out and had a few drinks.
“A camera hit me across my nose as I was opening the door, I turned, grabbed the nearest camera to me and shoved it backwards.”
Harry said he was taken back to Clarence House afterwards and then “on to see a doctor”.
The duke said “everyone” in the family include his father, now the King, was sympathetic.
“Everyone in the family, including my father, was sympathetic to the position I was in, there was no respite, never an ‘off’ moment when I was allowed to go out with my friends without the intrusion and harassment.”
Tara Cobham6 June 2023 11:47
Duke writes about impact on relationship with then-girlfriend Chelsy Davy
In his written witness statement, Harry references a story from November 2007 which appeared in the Irish edition of the Sunday Mirror and reported details of the duke’s relationship with his then-girlfriend Chelsy Davy.
Harry wrote: “It reported that Chelsy and I had a ‘secret meeting’ where I had ‘begged her for a second chance’.”
He went on to say: “These kinds of articles made me feel as though my relationship with Chelsy was always set to be doomed.
“We couldn’t even meet in private or have arguments over the telephone without the defendant somehow learning these details and publishing them for the whole country to see.
“Again, it was just that feeling of being under surveillance all the time.
“I believe Chelsy found this even more difficult to deal with when she lived in England.”
The Duke in his witness statement also described a story in the Mirror in 2005, in which it was claimed his then-girlfriend Chelsy Davy was “furious and had given me a ‘tongue-lashing down the phone’ following allegations that I had been flirting with a brunette” at a party.
Harry said: “I had been immature, I hadn’t really thought about my actions and I had made a stupid decision – and my mistakes were being played out publicly.”
He said Chelsy was extremely guarded about their relationship and a lot of their long-distance relationship was conducted over the telephone.
“Every time these kinds of stories were published, there was a strain put on our relationship, we started to distrust everyone around us,” he said.
“In hindsight, knowing the extent to which MGN journalists were targeting us and intercepting our communications, we probably lost friends needlessly and put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be secretive and deal with problems without support, out of the sense of paranoia that articles like this created.”
Tara Cobham6 June 2023 11:46
‘Every single article has caused me distress,’ Harry tells Andrew Green
Andrew Green KC, for MGN, has asked the duke: “Is it realistic, when you have been the subject of so much press intrusion by so many press, both domestic and international, to attribute specific distress to a particular article from 20 years ago, which you may not have seen at the time?”
Harry replied: “As I said earlier, it isn’t a specific article, it is all of the articles.”
He added: “Every single article has caused me distress,” to which Mr Green then asked if each individual article had caused him distress.
Harry replied: “Yes, without question.”
Mr Green then asked Harry about part of his case which states that he was caused particular distress “because he is a very private person” and was in the public eye at a young age.
Harry said: “I believe that as a child, every single one of these articles played an important role in my growing up.”
However, he added that he could not confirm whether he remembered reading specific articles at the time they were published, adding that there were “millions” of articles “that have been written about me since age 12”.
Mr Green asked Harry about part of his case that alleges articles “caused him to be paranoid and to distrust those around him”, and whether he was referring to specific MGN articles or “the general effect of all of the articles” about him.
Harry said: “Yes, because … it is 20 years ago and I simply can’t other than speculate whether I saw these articles at the time.
“I certainly saw a lot of articles at the time and was made aware … unfortunately, by the behaviour and reaction of my inner circle.”
The duke added that when information he had only told to a few members of his inner circle was made public, “your circle of friends starts to shrink”.
Tara Cobham6 June 2023 11:43
Harry speaks on 2003 article alleging row between him and his brother
In his witness statement, the Duke of Sussex referred to a 2003 article detailing an alleged row between him and his brother William, now the Prince of Wales, over their mother’s former butler, Paul Burrell.
Harry said he had not wanted “our disagreement” about how to handle the situation “splashed across the newspapers”.
He said he would have used the phrase “two-face s***” as reported and believed this was lifted directly from his voicemail.
One of the articles put before the trial is a December 2003 report from The People, headlined: “Wills… Seeing Burrell is only way to stop him selling more Diana secrets. Harry no… Burrell’s a…”.
Harry said: “The article accurately sets out the position that my brother was open to fixing a meeting with Paul to discuss his ongoing exposes about our mother, however I had made up my mind about the kind of person I thought Paul was and was firmly against meeting him at this point in my life.”
He added: “Both my brother and I had very strong feelings about how indiscrete Paul had proven to be with the way he had sold our mother’s possessions and how he had given numerous interviews about her,” the duke said.
“We firmly believed that she would have expected some privacy in death, especially from someone she had trusted, and we were so upset at the way he was behaving – I didn’t want to hear his reasons for it.”
Harry continued: “A ‘senior royal source’ is quoted within the article, reflecting my exact private feelings including that I was “dead against any meeting” and that a meeting would be “pandering to Burrell’s attention-seeking and self-interest”.
“I also would have used the phrase “two-face s***”, as is reported and believe this could have been lifted directly from a voicemail I had left.”
Tara Cobham6 June 2023 11:41
Harry ‘physically sick’ at eight private investigator payments relating to Diana
The Duke of Sussex said in his written evidence that he felt “physically sick” to learn there were eight payments to private investigators in relation to his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
The duke said that there were 135 separate payments related to him, and a further 154 for his associates.
He continued: “I’m shocked and appalled at the sheer volume of payments made by MGN titles to private investigators, who are known in this litigation to have used voicemail interception and other unlawful information-gathering techniques to obtain private information about their targets, for private information about me and my associates over a 10-year period, from 1999, when I was still very much a minor, to 2009.”
The duke added: “I now realise that my acute paranoia of being constantly under surveillance was not misplaced after all.”
“I was upset to discover the amount of suspicious call data and the 13 private investigator payments for Chelsy (Davy, his ex-girlfriend).
“Had she not been in a relationship with me, she would never have had to endure such a horrific experience at the hands of MGN’s journalists.
“There are even eight private investigator payments made in relation to my mother, which I have only learnt of since bringing my claim. This makes me feel physically sick.”
Tara Cobham6 June 2023 11:36