Prince Harry has no evidence he was hacked by the Mirror, court says

Prince Harry

The Mirror Group’s lawyers suspect that the newspaper reports about the prince were instead leaked by royal press officials

Prince Harry has no evidence he was the victim of a phone hack by Mirror journalists, the Supreme Court has learned. Instead, stories about his private life were secretly leaked by royal press officials.

The Duke of Sussex claims dozens of messages published in the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People were obtained through phone hacking or other illegal conduct. The articles, published between 1995 and 2011, detail his relationship with his family, his relationship with his ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy, his military service and allegations of drug use.

He claims this behavior was condoned by senior officials like Piers Morgan.

Mirror Group Newspapers has admitted it once hired a private investigator to illegally gather information on Harry. However, she insists most of her stories were obtained legally and says the prince has “no basis” for claiming his voicemails were hacked by Mirror journalists.

Andrew Green KC, the company’s lawyer, said just because other celebrities’ phones were hacked by Mirror journalists doesn’t mean Harry was targeted in that way. He said the evidence presented by the prince was either “poor” or “completely non-existent”.

Instead, the newspaper publisher suggests that its stories about Harry came from confidential sources, friends of the prince and royal press officials.

In one instance, Harry alleges that an article entitled ‘Harry Has Kissing Disease’, published when Morgan was editor of the Daily Mirror, about the teenage prince suffering from glandular fever must have been illegally obtained.

The Mirror’s attorneys claim that the true source of the story was likely King Charles’ former press chief Mark Bolland, who had a strong personal relationship with Morgan “that included regular phone calls, meals together and drinking sprees.” The newspaper group implies that Harry should blame his father’s staff for the invasion of his privacy rather than the journalists.

The company said that when the Metropolitan Police discovered that News of the World reporter Clive Goodman had hacked Prince Harry’s phone in 2006, police would have noticed if Mirror journalists had also been tapping royal voicemails.

“No journalists from Mirror Group Newspapers have been arrested or prosecuted, suggesting that Mirror Group Newspapers was not involved in wiretapping the voicemails of the Duke of Sussex and those around him,” the company said.

Harry is one of four people whose phone-hacking allegations against Mirror publishers are being examined in a seven-week Supreme Court trial. The Mirror denies their specific allegations of phone hacking, while arguing that the plaintiffs missed a statutory time limit in which to assert their claims.

David Sherborne, the lawyer for Harry and the other alleged victims, told the court that there had been widespread illegal behavior at the Mirror newspapers. He claimed that senior executives, including Morgan, must have been aware of tactics ranging from phone hacking to landline tapping to disclosure of private financial records.

“We have Mr Morgan’s direct involvement in a number of these incidents and his knowledge of voicemail interception,” Sherborne previously told the court.

Morgan has denied ever knowingly publishing stories based on phone hacking.

One of the core issues of the process is the use of private investigators to carry out illegal activities on behalf of journalists. The court has already heard allegations that, when Morgan was editor, the Daily Mirror hired an outside agency to obtain Prince Michael of Kent’s financial details. The private investigator allegedly called Coutts Bank and persuaded them to release the prince’s private details by posing as the prince’s accountant.

Mirror Group Newspapers spent millions of pounds on outside private investigators in the 2000s, but claimed that in many cases the third parties had provided “expertise” in sourcing legally available material from public registers.

Mirror Group Newspapers has already paid around £100m in penalties and legal fees to settle hundreds of phone hacking claims against its titles, and also set aside a further £50m to cover future payouts.

The first three weeks of the trial will address general questions surrounding alleged illegal behavior at the three Mirror newspapers, while the second half will see testimonies from the four alleged victims.

Prince Harry is scheduled to testify over three days at the trial in early June, becoming the first king to testify from the witness stand since the 19th century.


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