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Prince Harry Returns to Witness Box in His British Tabloid Lawsuit



Prince Harry has returned to London’s High Court for his second day of testimony in his case against British tabloid publisher Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).

Harry, who is also known as the Duke of Sussex, made history yesterday as the first British royal to appear in the witness box in 130 years.

During his full day of testimony – which included examination by his own lawyer, David Sherborne KC, followed by cross-examination from MGN’s lawyer, Andrew Green KC – the prince gave evidence in relation to over a dozen articles he claims were based on “unlawfully” gathered information.

However, during Green’s cross-examination on Tuesday, the lawyer repeatedly pointed out that almost all of the articles that Harry claims used illicitly-gathered information were based on statements from the royal press office or rehashed from earlier articles published in other outlets. In one instance, Green pointed out that an article published in The Mirror under the headline “No Eton trifles for Harry, 18,” in which it detailed his birthday plans, had mostly been lifted from an interview the Prince had given to the Press Association.

In his witness statement and on the stand, Harry claimed the occasion of his 18th birthday “incentivized” reporters to listen in to his private voicemails, although he could not offer any proof that they had done so or even point out what private information from the article had been unlawfully obtained.

Harry also claimed that a story about his broken thumb dating back to 2000 could have been obtained by hacking his doctor’s phone despite being shown evidence the story had originated from a Buckingham Palace spokesperson. “Are we not, Prince Harry, in the realms of total speculation,” Green put to the royal, who replied stubbornly “Ask the journalist [who wrote the story].”

Green also pointed out discrepancies between Harry’s memoir “Spare,” which was published in January, and the prince’s witness statement, including conflicting accounts of whether or not he had wanted to confront his mother Princess Diana’s former butler after the servant sold off a number of the princess’s possessions following her death. According to “Spare,” Harry was longing to confront the butler while in his witness statement the prince said “I was firmly against meeting him.”

The distinction is relevant because of a Mirror article that reported Harry and his brother William disagreeing on whether to meet with Burrell. Harry claims the 2003 article, which quotes Harry calling the butler a “two-faced shit,” was based on hacked voicemails. “This is the kind of article seeds distrust between brothers,” Harry said in the witness box, a nod to his now public feud with William.

Asked whether the articles had caused Harry “distress,” the prince replied: “They all caused distress, I was a teenager at the time. Every element of it was distressing.”

At one point, Green paused his questioning to say: “Everybody has enormous sympathy with the extraordinary degree of press intrusion you have suffered in your life [but] it doesn’t follow from that it was a result of unlawful activity.”

Among the nefarious techniques Harry accuses MGN’s newspapers – which include The Mirror, The Daily Mirror and The People – of using are “phone hacking,” meaning unlawfully accessing voicemail inboxes by guessing the passwords, and “blagging,” which involves obtaining confidential information (such as travel itineraries or medical records) by impersonation or bribery. MGN denies the claims save for one instance, for which it apologized at the beginning of the trial.

Harry is joined in his claim by a number of other individuals, including “Coronation Street” actors Nikki Sanderson and Michael Turner and Fiona Wightman the ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse.


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