Entertainment

Harry tells court he would ‘feel some injustice’ if hacking claims rejected

The Duke of Sussex, 38, is suing Mirror Group Newspapers over allegations its journalists engaged in unlawful information-gathering activities.
The Duke of Sussex, 38, is suing Mirror Group Newspapers over allegations its journalists engaged in unlawful information-gathering activities.

The Duke of Sussex told the High Court he would “feel some injustice” if his phone hacking claims against the publisher of the Mirror were rejected, as he concluded giving evidence in his case.

He also claimed the press “misled me and covered up the wrongdoing” for his whole life and went to “extreme lengths to cover their tracks”, during a second day in the witness box.

Harry, 38, 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.

He told the court in London on Wednesday: “I believe that phone hacking was (done) on an industrial scale across at least three of the papers at the time … that is beyond any doubt.

“To have a decision against me and any of the other people (bringing a claim), given that Mirror Group have admitted hacking, yes, I would feel some injustice … if it wasn’t accepted.”

During almost eight hours of questioning over two days, the duke repeatedly told the court that articles published in MGN titles were “incredibly suspicious” and bore “tell-tale signs” of unlawful activity.

He told Mr Justice Fancourt that he remembered suspicious activity, including missed calls and missing voicemail messages “from the moment I had a mobile phone”.

But MGN’s barrister Andrew Green KC contended that Harry had no call data evidence and it was “total speculation” that journalists unlawfully obtained the information about him in 33 articles which are at the centre of his case.

Facing questions from his own barrister David Sherborne on Wednesday, Harry denied he had been speculating, saying there was “hard evidence”.

The duke told the court: “For my whole life the press has misled me and covered up the wrongdoing.

“For me to be sitting here in court knowing the defence has the evidence in front of them, and Mr Green suggesting I’m speculating, I’m not entirely sure what to say.”

The Duke of Sussex leaves the Rolls Buildings in central London after giving evidence
The Duke of Sussex leaves the Rolls Buildings in central London after giving evidence (Aaron Chown/PA)

Harry earlier told the court that hacking him would have been “an incredibly risky thing to do”.

In his written evidence, the duke said the alleged hacking of his phone “presented very real security concerns for not only me but also everyone around me”.

Mr Sherborne asked whether he meant no-one would have hacked him as a result.

Harry replied: “No, I believe they would have gone to extreme lengths to cover their tracks.”

Andrew Green KC
The Duke of Sussex was cross-examined by Andrew Green KC (Lucy North/PA)

The duke also made references to the alleged destruction of evidence and the use of so-called burner phones.

He also told the court he decided to launch his claim against MGN after meeting Mr Sherborne in France, which features in his book Spare and appears to have happened while he was on holiday with Sir Elton John and David Furnish.

Harry said he believed there was a discussion about him wanting to put a stop to the “absolute intrusion and hate that was coming towards me and my wife and see if there was any way to find a different course of action, rather than relying on the institution’s way”.

Towards the end of his evidence – which made him the first senior royal in more than two decades to appear personally in court proceedings – he appeared to show some emotion as he was asked how the court process had made him feel.

The Duke of Sussex’s barrister David Sherborne
Harry also faced questions from his own barrister David Sherborne (Lucy North/PA)

Mr Sherborne asked: “Prince Harry, you have been in that witness box for over a day-and a half.

“You have had to go through these articles and answer questions knowing this is a very public courtroom and the world’s media are watching. How has that made you feel?”

After a long pause, in which he appeared emotional, the duke eventually answered: “Erm, it’s a lot.”

Following a few additional questions from the judge, Harry left the witness box and let out a deep sigh before he sat down among his legal team until the end of the court day.

Jane Kerr
Former MGN royal correspondent Jane Kerr has denied she was involved in unlawful information gathering (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Wearing a dark blue suit with a silver tie, he waved to reporters as he left the Rolls Building but made no comment as he got into a waiting Range Rover.

The court also heard from former MGN royal correspondent Jane Kerr, who denied she was involved in unlawful information gathering.

Ms Kerr’s byline features on a number of the articles that are being examined in the trial of Harry’s claim against MGN over alleged unlawful information gathering.

She said in a witness statement: “I have never engaged in voicemail interception at MGN or elsewhere and I have never engaged the services of private investigators or other third parties to engage in unlawful information gathering activities.”

In a second statement, she said: “I would like to reiterate in the strongest terms that I have never engaged in voicemail interception at MGN or elsewhere and I have never instructed private investigators or other third parties to engage in unlawful information-gathering activities.

“I worked hard and honestly as a journalist, always believing I was doing the right thing, and I felt proud and privileged to be the Mirror’s royal reporter.

“To be accused of such a thing is extremely upsetting.”

Court artist sketch of the Duke of Sussex
MGN’s barrister Andrew Green KC, left, said there was ‘simply no evidence capable of supporting the finding that the Duke of Sussex was hacked’ (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Harry alleges that 147 articles published between 1996 and 2010 by MGN titles contained information gathered using unlawful methods, and 33 have been selected to be considered at the trial.

MGN is contesting his claim and has either denied or not admitted that articles about Harry being examined at the trial involved phone hacking or unlawful activity.

At the start of Harry’s individual case on Monday, Mr Green said there was “simply no evidence capable of supporting the finding that the Duke of Sussex was hacked, let alone on a habitual basis”, and that payment records used in the duke’s claim “simply do not demonstrate unlawful conduct or knowledge thereof”.

The duke’s claim is being heard alongside three other representative claims during a trial which began last month and is due to last six to seven weeks.

The three other representative claimants are Michael Turner, known professionally as Michael Le Vell, best known for playing Kevin Webster in Coronation Street, actress Nikki Sanderson and comedian Paul Whitehouse’s ex-wife Fiona Wightman.

Ms Sanderson’s case is due to start on Thursday.