Prince Harry Returns to Court For Second-Day Testimony in Phone-Hacking Case
Prince Harry is back in court this week as part of his ongoing legal battle against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over alleged unlawful information gathering. Following his hearing back in March, the Duke of Sussex took the stand at the High Court of the Royal Courts of Justice in London on June 6 to testify against the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, and Daily Express. As a result, the 38-year-old prince became the first British royal to give evidence in court in more than 130 years, according to Reuters and the Associated Press. King Edward VII was the last person to do so; before he became king, he testified as a witness in a divorce case in 1870 and in an 1891 slander trial over a card game.
Harry first took legal action against MGN back in 2019 over an alleged phone hacking. In his witness statement on Tuesday, obtained by People, Harry claimed that "tabloids would routinely publish articles about me that were often wrong but interspersed with snippets of truth, which I now think were most likely gleaned from voicemail interception and/or unlawful information gathering."
"I genuinely feel that in every relationship that I've ever had — be that with friends, girlfriends, with family or with the army, there's always been a third party involved, namely the tabloid press," he continued. "Having seen me grow up from a baby (being born into this 'contractual relationship' without any choice) and scrutinized my every move, the tabloids have known the challenges and mental health struggles that I have had to deal with throughout my childhood and adult life and for them to then play on that and use it to their own advantage, I think is, well, criminal."
According to People, Prince William, King Charles III, Princess Diana, and his ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy were among those named in the witness statement as people that Harry regularly exchanged voice messages with. The duke also claimed he experienced strange phone activity, saying, "I wouldn't go into my voicemail unless the little envelope symbol flashed up on my phone signaling to me that I had a new message. Sometimes this symbol would vanish before I had a chance to listen to the voicemail."
Harry added that "every single article has caused me distress," alleging that people started acting differently around him due to the nature of the press stories. "Newspapers are always in every palace, unfortunately," Harry said. He then called out the tabloids, saying they have "blood on their hands" for all the harm they've caused.
MGN's lawyer Andrew Green and Harry went back and forth during his testimony, with Green claiming that there were other ways that the tabloids may have gotten their information, such as a palace spokesperson.
The following day, Harry returned for the second day of his testimony, where Green continued cross-examining the prince on some of the articles that he argued contained information obtained via unlawful methods, per People. Referencing a 2006 story that reported that Davy was reportedly upset at Harry for visiting a strip club, Harry said, "My girlfriend's number was bizarrely in the hands of Mirror journalists. Very suspicious that they had her number […] I don't believe she would give any journalist her number."
He also brought up another article reporting on a "make-or-break holiday" in Mozambique with his then-girlfriend, saying he was "deeply concerned [it] would be published in advance" of the vacation. "Another classic example of a story 'incentivizing' reporters to go and find out as much as possible," the duke added.
The official trial between Harry and MGN began on May 10, per People. The duke was originally expected to testify on June 5, though his attorney, David Sherborne, informed the court that Harry wasn't available to give evidence after traveling from Los Angeles on Sunday night following his daughter, Princess Lilibet's, birthday on June 4. Lilibet turned 2 years old.
Several other notable figures, including Elton John and Elizabeth Hurley, are also suing the publisher of Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday for illegal information gathering. And, of course, this isn't the first time Harry has taken legal action against Associated Newspapers. Back in July 2022, the prince snagged an early victory in his libel lawsuit against the publication company regarding a Feb. 20, 2022 article published by the Daily Mail about his fight for police protection in the UK.
See more of Harry's recent appearance in London ahead.