On May 10, a London courtroom saw the start of the trial in one of three lawsuits Prince Harry and his wife Meghan brought against British tabloids. According to the NYT, the trial relates to allegations of phone hacking at three publications: The Mirror, The Sunday Mirror, and The Sunday People.
Harry will be the first senior member of the Royal Family to appear in court and undergo cross-examination in modern times when he personally testifies in person in early June.
According to Reuters, Harry and Meghan have sued at least seven British and American media outlets since 2019 for what they believe are privacy violations, illegal actions, and inaccurate reports about him and his family.
One of the many reasons the couple gave for leaving the Royal Family and relocating to California in 2020 was media interference.
Harry and other plaintiffs, including actor Michael Le Vell, actress Nikki Sanderson, and Fiona Wightman, the ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse, are currently in court. They claim that between 1991 and 2011, journalists from the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, and The People newspapers illegally obtained private and confidential information about their lives.
They have primarily accused journalists of using a security flaw in mobile phones, which has since been closed, to access their “targets'” voicemails, which they then used to create a series of offensive stories about their private lives.
According to the BBC, the plaintiffs have claimed that their targeting was carried out for simply “commercial reasons” and that there was presumably “no justifiable public interest” behind it.
In his most recent autobiographical work, Spare, Harry has written extensively on the psychological damage he has experienced as a result of British tabloid coverage. He has provided the court with about 140 pieces that he believes were written using illegally obtained material.
The trial will revolve around 207 newspaper articles that were written between 1991 and 2011, according to the BBC. The claimants have contended that senior executives must have known about the journalists’ use of illegal tactics to collect information for these stories and either failed to prevent it or actively encouraged it.
The television host Piers Morgan, who served as editor of the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004, is accused of knowing about illegal activities, which is one of the case’s main charges.
Harry’s solicitors claim they have proof that Morgan, who was well-known for being infatuated with Harry and Meghan at the time of their break with the royal family, not only knew about the hacking but also told others about it. This is the first time a court will make a decision on these allegations, despite the fact that Morgan has consistently rejected them.
The parent company of the three accused newspapers, MGN, acknowledged phone hacking in a previous instance in 2015 and apologised in front of the public. It has resolved hundreds of claims of wrongdoing by its journalists over the years. MGN has reportedly put aside £28 million to address hacking concerns, according to the BBC.
However, a key tenet of MGN’s case has been that, while journalists did violate the law, senior executives who were purposely kept in the dark cannot be held accountable.
According to the AP, MGN acknowledged on Wednesday that it had illegally gathered information on Prince Harry but denied hacking his phone. MGN acknowledged that a private investigator was engaged to illegally obtain information about the Duke of Sussex’s activities at the Chinawhite nightclub one night in February 2004, and claimed that the Duke was entitled to “appropriate compensation” in court documents.
According to Andrew Green, the attorney for the newspapers, several of the challenges have been filed after the deadline required by law.