UK

Harry says ‘mission continues’ after phone hacking claim against Mirror settled

A judge ruled in December that phone hacking became ‘widespread and habitual’ at MGN titles in the late 1990s.

The Duke of Sussex has settled the rest of his claim
The Duke of Sussex has settled the rest of his claim (PA) The Duke of Sussex has settled the rest of his claim (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Duke of Sussex hit out at Piers Morgan and said his “mission continues” following the settlement of the remaining parts of his phone hacking claim against the publisher of the Daily Mirror.

Harry, 39, sued Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for damages, claiming journalists at its publications were linked to methods including phone hacking, so-called “blagging” – gaining information by deception – and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.

In December, Mr Justice Fancourt ruled that phone hacking became “widespread and habitual” at MGN titles in the late 1990s and that Harry’s phone was hacked “to a modest extent” by MGN, awarding him £140,600 in damages.

Thirty-three articles in Harry’s claim were examined during the trial last year, with 15 articles found to have been the product of unlawful information gathering.

A further 115 articles were in his claim, which may have been the subject of a further trial.

But during a hearing in London on Friday, his barrister David Sherborne confirmed a settlement had been reached between the duke and MGN, which will pay Harry a “substantial additional sum” in damages, as well as all of the costs of his claim.

The barrister said this included an interim payment towards the costs of £400,000.

Reading a statement from Harry outside the central London court, Mr Sherborne said: “Everything we said was happening at Mirror Group was in fact happening, and indeed, far worse, as the court ruled in an extremely damaging judgment.

“As the judge has said only this morning, we have uncovered and proved the shockingly dishonest way in which the Mirror acted for so many years, and then sought to conceal the truth.”

The duke criticised former Mirror editor Morgan, who he said “as editor, knew perfectly well what was going on, as the judge held”.

The Duke of Sussex’s barrister, David Sherborne, speaks to the media outside the Rolls Building in central London
MGN phone hacking trial The Duke of Sussex’s barrister, David Sherborne, speaks to the media outside the Rolls Building in central London (James Manning/PA)

He also hit out at what he said was Morgan’s “contempt for the court’s ruling” and “continued attacks” against him and called on the authorities “to uphold the rule of law and to prove that no one is above it”.

Harry continued: “As I said back in December, our mission continues.

“I believe in the positive change it will bring for all of us. It is the very reason why I started this, and why I will continue to see it through to the end.”

Following the ruling and Harry’s statement, Mr Morgan posted on X: “I totally agree with Prince Harry that ruthless intrusion into the private lives of the Royal Family for financial gain is utterly reprehensible… and I hope he stops doing it.”

After Mr Justice Fancourt’s judgment in December about the extent of unlawful information gathering at Mirror group titles, Mr Morgan criticised the duke, describing him as “a guy who’s repeatedly trashed his family in public for hundreds of millions of dollars, even as two of its most senior and respected members were dying – his grandparents”.

The broadcaster added: “He also says he’s on a mission to reform the media, when it’s become clear his real mission, along with his wife, is to destroy the British monarchy.”

Friday’s announcement of the settlement comes after Harry withdrew his High Court libel claim against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday last month.

Harry’s case at trial was heard alongside similar claims brought by actor Michael Turner, who is known professionally as Michael Le Vell, and others
Actor Michael Turner, who is known professionally as Michael Le Vell, Harry’s case at trial was heard alongside similar claims brought by actor Michael Turner, who is known professionally as Michael Le Vell, and others (James Manning/PA)

He sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over a February 2022 article about his legal challenge against the Home Office following a decision to change his publicly funded security arrangements when visiting the UK.

However, on January 19 it was announced that the claim had been withdrawn, with a spokesperson for the duke saying his focus was on “the safety of his family”.

During Friday’s hearing, Mr Justice Fancourt said MGN should pay so-called “generic” legal costs to the people currently involved in the legal action against the publisher.

The judge said: “On the generic issues, there can be little doubt that the claimants were successful.”

The final figure of costs is yet to be assessed but the High Court in London heard the group of people who sued the publisher were seeking payment of around £1.9 million from MGN towards the legal costs of bringing those allegations to court.

Mr Justice Fancourt ruled that the interim payment should be made ahead of a further assessment of costs.

Harry’s case at trial was heard alongside similar claims brought by actor Michael Turner, who is known professionally as Michael Le Vell and is most famous for playing Kevin Webster in Coronation Street, actress Nikki Sanderson, and Fiona Wightman, the ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse.

The claims brought by Ms Sanderson and Ms Wightman were dismissed because they were made too late, despite the judge finding that some of their complaints were proved.

In his ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Fancourt ruled that Ms Sanderson and Ms Wightman should pay MGN the legal costs of defending their individual claims.

The judge also ruled that Mr Turner should pay MGN’s costs of responding to his claim from the date of March 5 2022, where an offer was made.

An MGN spokesperson said: “We are pleased to have reached this agreement, which gives our business further clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago and for which we have apologised.”