The publisher of the British Daily Mirror newspaper admitted and apologized for illegally collecting information about Prince Harry in his reports, and said he deserved compensation at the start of the prince’s first trial on Wednesday.
Admitted in court filings outlining Mirror Group Newspapers’ defence.
The group continued to deny that it hacked phones to intercept voicemails, and said Harry and three lesser-known celebrities made their claims over the time limit.
But it acknowledged there was “some evidence of instructions from third parties to engage in other types of UIG (unlawful information gathering) in relation to each of the claimants”, including the Duke of Sussex. It said this “calls for compensation” but did not explain what form this might take.
“MGN apologizes unreservedly for all of these UIG cases, and assures plaintiffs that such behavior will never be repeated,” the court papers said.
The publisher said its apology was not a tactical damage-minimization move but was done “because such behavior could never have happened”.
The trial is Harry’s opening launch in his legal battle against the British press. Harry and other celebrities are suing the former publisher of the Daily Mirror, alleging invasion of privacy.
The case is the first of three lawsuits over the duke’s phone hacking and threatens to do something he has said his family has long feared: putting a member of the royal family on the witness stand to discuss the embarrassing revelation.
Said activities stretch back more than two decades, when journalists and private eyes intercepted voicemails snooping on royals, politicians, athletes, celebrities, and even crime victims. A scandal erupted when the hack was revealed.
Harry is expected to testify in person in Junesaid his lawyer. It wouldn’t be his first time before the Supreme Court, after his surprise appearance last month To observe most of the four-day hearing in one of his other lawsuits.
He did not appear to deliver the opening statements at the trial. Harry traveled across London for his father’s coronation on SaturdayKing Charles III before leaving immediately after the ceremony Back in California to be with his family for his son’s birthday.
The prince waged a war of words against British tabloids in legal cases and in his best-selling memoir, Spear, vowing to make it his life’s mission to fix the media he blames for the death of his mother, Princess Diana. She died in a car wreck in Paris in 1997 while trying to escape from the paparazzi.
Harry also sued the publishers of the Daily Mail and The Sun over a phone-hacking scandal that erupted after a year-long investigation into journalism ethics in 2011 revealed staff of the now-defunct News of the World eavesdropping on mobile phone voicemails.
Harry outlined his grievances against the media in court papers, saying that the press had dogged him since his early days and the novel had created an image of him as a “fish”, a “cheater” and an “underage drinker”. Girlfriends were destroyed by “the entire tabloid press as a third party.”
“Looking back now, such behavior on their part is absolutely despicable,” he said in a witness statement in a similar case.
And his lawsuits could further strain family relations, which have been strained since Harry and his wife Megan left royal life in 2020 and moved to the United States, after a complaint about racist attitudes from the British press.
The Mirror Group newspapers and other publishers mainly defended themselves by asserting that Harry had failed to bring his cases within six years.. The duke’s lawyer argued that an exception should be made because the publishers had actively concealed the fraud.
In a stunning revelation last month that led to an embarrassing chapter in his father’s life, Harry blamed his family for his delay in filing suit..
He confirmed that he had been barred from suing The Sun and other newspapers owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch because of a “confidential agreement” – allegedly approved by Queen Elizabeth II – that called for a private settlement and an apology.
Harry said in a witness statement against the newsgroup newspapers.
“The Corporation was incredibly nervous about this and wanted to avoid at all costs the kind of reputational damage it had suffered in 1993,” he said, referring to a transcript of a leaked recording – published in the Sunday Mirror – of an intimate conversation. His father, then the Prince of Wales, was with his lover, now Queen Camilla, as he compared himself to a tampon.
Harry said his brother, Prince William, had quietly settled his hacking claims with News Group for a “huge sum of money” in 2020. He also claimed his father had instructed palace staff to order him to drop the lawsuit because he was being bad for the family.
Murdoch denied the existence of a “confidential agreement” and has not commented on the alleged settlement. The palace did not respond to requests for comment.
Harry alleged that reporters for the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People used illegal methods to gather material from his family and friends for nearly 150 articles. The newspaper said it was wrong about how its reporters obtained the information, saying they used legal methods for many of the articles.
In 2015, the publishers of The Mirror printed a front-page apology for the phone hack and tripled their money to £12m ($15m) to compensate the victims.
Mirror Group said more than 600 of the 830 claims had been settled. Of the 104 remaining cases, it said in court papers, 86 were filed too late for litigation.
A spokesperson for the Mirror Group newspapers said before the trial: “Where historical wrongdoing has occurred, we have acknowledged, taken full responsibility and apologized without reservation.” “But we will vigorously defend against allegations of wrongdoing where our journalists acted lawfully.”
The lawsuits have been combined as a test case that could determine the outcome of piracy allegations also filed against the Mirror Group by former Girls Aloud member Cheryl, ex-singer George Michael’s ex-soccer, and former footballer Ian Wright.
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