In court documents presenting its defense, Mirror Group Newspapers acknowledged and apologized for illegally collecting information about Prince Harry in its coverage, and stated that it justifies compensation. This occurred at the start of the Prince’s initial phone hacking trial on Wednesday.
The British tabloid, Daily Mirror’s publisher, made this confession.
The group persisted in denying any involvement in phone hacking to access voicemail messages. It also argued that Prince Harry and three other less famous public figures made claims beyond the allowable time limit.
However, the group did admit that there was “some evidence of the instruction of third parties to engage in other types of UIG (unlawful information gathering)” regarding all the claimants, including the Duke of Sussex, which justifies compensation. The court filings did not specify the form of compensation.
Mirror Group Newspapers expressed an unreserved apology for all cases of UIG and reassured the claimants that such misconduct would never recur.
The Daily Mirror’s publisher clarified that its apology was not a strategic move to minimize damages but rather a sincere expression of remorse “because such conduct should never have occurred.”
Prince Harry’s legal battle against the British media begins with this trial. He and the other public figures are suing the previous owner of the Daily Mirror for purportedly violating their privacy.
This lawsuit is the first of the Prince’s three phone hacking cases and poses a significant threat that his family has long dreaded: the possibility of having a member of the royal family testify in court and discuss embarrassing revelations.
For more than two decades, journalists and private investigators engaged in intercepting voicemails to eavesdrop on members of the royal family, politicians, athletes, celebrities, and even crime victims. The hacking scandal broke out when these activities were exposed.
Prince Harry’s lawyer has stated that he is expected to give in-person testimony in June. This won’t be his first time in the High Court, as he made a surprise appearance last month to observe most of a four-day hearing in one of his other lawsuits.
However, he was not present for the opening statements in this trial. Prince Harry briefly visited London for his father’s coronation on Saturday before promptly returning to California to celebrate his son’s birthday with his family.
Prince Harry has been in a legal battle with British newspapers and has expressed his opposition to them in his best-selling memoir, “Spare,” vowing to make it his life’s mission to reform the media that he holds responsible for his mother’s death. Princess Diana died in a car accident in Paris, in 1997, while she was attempting to evade the paparazzi.
In addition, Harry has also filed lawsuits against the publishers of the Daily Mail and The Sun over the phone hacking scandal that expanded following a year-long investigation into press ethics in 2011. It was discovered that employees of the now-defunct News of the World tabloid had wiretapped mobile phone voicemails.
In court documents, Prince Harry has expressed his complaints about the media, stating that the press has relentlessly pursued him since his early years and fabricated a storyline that depicted him as “the ‘thicko,’ the ‘cheat,’ the ‘underage drinker.’” He also stated that his romantic relationships were ruined by “the entire tabloid press as a third party.”
He further remarked in a witness statement in a comparable case, “Looking back on it now, such behavior on their part is utterly vile.”
Prince Harry’s lawsuits have the potential to cause additional tension in family relationships that have already been strained since he and his wife, Meghan, departed from royal life in 2020 and relocated to the United States, citing racist attitudes from the British press.
Mirror Group Newspapers and other publishers have primarily defended themselves by claiming that Harry did not bring his cases within the six-year time limit. However, Harry’s legal representative has argued that an exception should be made since the publishers purposely concealed their wrongdoing.