Prince Harry wins awarded GBP 1,40,000 in phone hacking lawsuit

Harry, 39, had named three Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) newspapers the Mirror', the Sunday Mirror' and the People' in his lawsuit.

London: Prince Harry on Friday declared it was a “great day for truth as well as accountability” after a London High Court judge ruled that he had been a victim of phone hacking by a British tabloid and awarded him damages of GBP 140,600.

Fifth in line to the British throne as the younger son of King Charles III, Harry and his wife, American actor Meghan Markle live in the USA and has been facing continued media scrutiny over multiple issues connected with his private life.

Harry, 39, had named three Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) newspapers the Mirror’, the Sunday Mirror’ and the People’ in his lawsuit.

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Justice Timothy Fancourt ruled that Harry was probably only hacked to a modest extent from the end of 2003 to April 2009. He said the Duke of Sussex’s case was therefore “proved in part,” with 15 of the 33 articles presented in court found to be the product of phone hacking or other unlawful information gathering.

“There was a tendency for the Duke in his evidence to assume that everything published was the product of voicemail interception because phone hacking was rife within Mirror Group at the time. But phone hacking was not the only journalistic tool at the time and his claims in relation to the other 18 articles did not stand up to careful analysis,” Justice Fancourt concluded.

The court found that within MGN, principal board directors, senior executives, and editors such as Piers Morgan “clearly knew about or were involved in these illegal activities.”

“Today is a great day for truth, as well as accountability. The court has ruled that unlawful and criminal activities were carried out at all three Mirror group newspaper titles on a habitual and widespread basis for more than a decade,” noted Prince Harry in a statement read out by his lawyer outside the court.

“This case is not just about hacking it is about a systemic practice of unlawful and appalling behaviour, followed by cover-ups and destruction of evidence, the shocking scale of which can only be revealed through these proceedings,” his statement added.

Harry, who was said to be virtually following the case from his home in the US, had sued MGN for unlawful information gathering including phone hacking, citing over 140 articles he alleged had been obtained illegally. This included stories about his relationship with his family and ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy, injuries and illnesses, his military service, and allegations of drug use.

“We welcome today’s judgment that gives the business the necessary clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago. Where historical wrongdoing took place, we apologise unreservedly, have taken full responsibility, and paid appropriate compensation,” a spokesperson for MGN said in a statement after the ruling.

Earlier this year, Harry had flown in from the US to give evidence before the court in London in the case, making him the first senior member of the royal family to testify in court in over a century, media reports said.

“It was a downward spiral, whereby the tabloids would constantly try and coax me, a ‘damaged’ young man, into doing something stupid that would make a good story and sell lots of newspapers. Looking back on it now, such behaviour on their part is utterly vile,” he told the court back in June.

The civil trial test case, also involving some actors, at the High Court in London ended soon after. MGN had contested the claims and also argued that some of the claimants had brought their legal action too late.

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