By Michael Holden and Sam Tobin
LONDON (Reuters) – Prince Harry returns to the High Court in London on Wednesday for a second day of grilling over his claims that British tabloids targeted him with phone-hacking and other unlawful behaviour.
The prince, who became the first senior British royal to appear in a witness box in more than a century on Tuesday, said the press had destroyed his relationships, and that he believed British media and its government had hit “rock bottom”.
He faced almost five hours of cross-examination on Tuesday from Andrew Green, the lawyer for Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, which he and 100 others are suing over allegations of widespread unlawful information-gathering between 1991 and 2011.
In a 50-page written witness statement and in questioning, he said the press had blood on its hands, destroyed his adolescence, ruined relationships with friends and girlfriends, and sowed paranoia and mistrust since 1996 when he was a schoolboy.
His anger at suggestions his mother, Princess Diana, was a victim of phone-hacking before her death in 1997 was also clear.
“I’ve experienced hostility from the press since I was born,” he said, calling the behaviour “vile”.
Harry, the first senior British royal to give evidence for 130 years, appeared relaxed but spoke firmly, as Green quizzed him in detail over 33 newspaper articles, whose details Harry claims were obtained unlawfully.
On a number of occasions, Green described the prince’s allegations as “total speculation”.
Harry and his American wife Meghan stepped down from royal duties in 2020, with press intrusion cited as a key factor in their decision to move to the United States.
They have since cut off cooperation with Britain’s biggest tabloids, many of which they have sued or are suing in similar cases.
Some of the tabloids gave a cynical reaction to Harry’s performance in court.
“Harry must have longed for the schmaltzy embrace of Oprah!” was the front page of the Daily Mail, a reference to the couple’s 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey.
MGN, now owned by Reach, has previously admitted its titles were involved in phone hacking, settling more than 600 claims, but Green has said there was no evidence that Harry had ever been a victim.
He argued that some of the personal information had come from, or was given with the consent of, senior Buckingham Palace aides.
Harry and the other claimants, however, are arguing during the seven-week trial that senior editors and executives at MGN knew about and approved of the unlawful behaviour.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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