LONDON (Reuters) – Prince Harry finished giving evidence at the High Court in London on Wednesday during a second day of grilling over his allegations that British tabloids targeted him with phone-hacking and other unlawful behaviour.
Harry and others are suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), publisher of the Daily Mirror and other tabloids, accusing them of widespread unlawful activities. MGN is contesting the claims and denies senior figures were aware of wrongdoing.
Below are quotes and highlights from the courtroom where Harry has faced hours of cross-examination in the witness box over two days:
‘IT’S A LOT’
At the conclusion of Harry’s evidence, his lawyer David Sherborne asked him: “You have had to go through these articles and answer questions knowing this is a very public courtroom and the world’s media are watching. How has that made you feel?”
Harry exhaled deeply and, appearing emotional, replied: “It’s a lot.”
PHONE-HACKING ON INDUSTRIAL SCALE
“If the court were to find that you were never hacked by any MGN journalist, would you be relieved or would you be disappointed?” MGN lawyer Andrew Green asked Harry.
“That would be speculating,” Harry said. “I believe phone-hacking was on an industrial scale across at least three of the papers at the time and that is beyond doubt and to have a decision against me and any other people that come behind me with their claims given that Mirror Group have accepted hacking … yes, I would feel some injustice.”
Green suggested that Harry wanted “to have been phone hacked”, to which the prince replied: “Nobody wants to be phone hacked.”
STOP ABUSE OF MEGHAN
Harry said part of the reason he is pursuing his lawsuit against MGN, and a similar case against Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper arm News Group Newspapers (NGN), was to stop the abuse of his wife, Meghan.
Green asked whether, when Harry first approached lawyers, he was “discussing a claim against News Group or were you discussing a claim against News Group and MGN?”
Harry replied: “I think it was a discussion on how to somehow find a way to stop the abuse, intrusion and hate that was coming towards me and my wife and seeing if there was any other way to find a different course of action, rather than rely on the institution’s lawyers.”
ABSENCE OF CALL DATA
Green again asked Harry about the absence of call data suggesting MGN journalists listened to his voicemails, contrasting it with the amount of call data provided in his separate lawsuit against NGN.
He asked Harry if he accepted that “the absence of call data to your phone is at least suggestive that you were not hacked by Mirror Group”, to which Harry replied: “Absolutely not.”
Harry also said that he thought “burner phones” were used to intercept voicemails and that call data had been “destroyed”.
When Harry was later asked by Sherborne whether the absence of call data meant no one had actually hacked his phone, he said: “I believe they would have gone to extreme lengths to cover their tracks.”
Harry told the court that a story about him attending a nightclub after breaking up with his girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, was “incredibly disturbing”.
He also said that the article with the headline “Hooray Harry Dumped”, published in 2007, was “celebrating” the end of his relationship – which Green firmly denied.
“‘Hooray Harry Dumped’ was hurtful to say the least,” Harry said. “That such a private moment was turned into a bit of a laugh and the fact that these payments (to private investigators) were referred to as ‘Project Harry’ is incredibly disturbing.
“The level of surveillance that I was under was quite something.”
Green replied that the article quoted a friend of Harry’s girlfriend as saying “she just got tired of his hooray lifestyle”, adding: “It’s not celebrating the demise of your relationship.”
Harry said that any quotes or information in articles about him which were attributed to a “royal source” made him suspicious about how the information was obtained.
In reference to a 2008 article about him not being allowed to return to combat in Afghanistan, Harry said: “It is suspicious that so much is attributed to a royal source.”
Harry was also asked why he had not sued other newspapers which published similar information to that contained in articles about him by MGN.
“I’m quite busy with other litigation, my lord,” Harry replied with a smile.
DESTRUCTION OF EVIDENCE
Harry also alleged there had been “industrial-scale destruction of evidence on all sides” after being repeatedly pressed about what evidence he had to support his claims.
Green said Harry’s claim covered the period between 1996 and 2010, asking: “Is it your case that your phone was consistently being hacked?”
“I wouldn’t know,” said Harry.
Green asked: “Are you claiming damages on the basis that your phone was being hacked on a daily basis?”
“It could’ve been happening on a daily basis, I simply don’t know.”
(Reporting by Michael Holden, Sam Tobin and Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Kate Holton)
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