UK Tabloid Publisher Apologizes As Prince Harry’s Phone Hacking Case Opens In London
The publisher of United Kingdom tabloid The Mirror, accused by Britain’s Prince Harry and other celebrities of unlawful information gathering, has apologised at the opening of a trial in London.
Harry has been involved in several legal cases against British newspaper publishers since moving to California in the United States and stepping down from royal duties in early 2020.
He is one of several high-profile claimants bringing damages against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over allegations of unlawful information gathering, including phone hacking. The group publishes titles including The Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People.
At the start of the trial on Wednesday, the publisher admitted “some evidence” of unlawful information gathering and assured that “such conduct will never be repeated”.
The group admitted that a private investigator was instructed by a journalist at The People to unlawfully gather information about Harry’s activities at a London nightclub one night in 2004. It apologised to Harry “unreservedly” and said he was entitled to “appropriate compensation” without providing further details.
But MGN lawyer Andrew Green said voicemail interception was denied. He also argued that some of the claims were brought too late, with some of the stories in question dating back more than 20 years.
‘Flood of illegality’
Lawyer David Sherborne, representing Harry and other claimants, submitted that the use of unlawful information gathering by journalists from the titles of MGN was happening “at an industrial scale”.
Harry, who was not present for the start of the hearing, has been selected as one of four test cases for the seven-week trial and is due to give evidence himself in person in early June, the first British royal to do so since the 19th century, according to local media.
“Prince or not, the blatantly unlawful and illegal methods that were used by the defendant to get every piece of information about his life away from royal duties was quite frankly appalling,” Sherborne told the court on Wednesday. “No one should have been subjected to that.”
“It was a flood of illegality,” Sherborne said, adding that “this flood was being authorised and approved of by senior executives”.
He is also pursuing claims against two other media companies, the publisher of The Sun and, separately, the publisher of the Daily Mail. Those cases will be decided later this year.
Harry holds the media responsible for the death of his mother Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997 after being pursued by paparazzi photographers.