NewsEuropePrince Harry testifies in court over press wiretapping scandal

    Prince Harry testifies in court over press wiretapping scandal

    Harry vs. british tabloids

    Prince Harry appeared in London’s High Court on Monday and Tuesday to allege that articles about him published in British newspapers run by the Mirror Group Newspapers contained information obtained by illegal means. If the allegations prove true, it could prove “industrial scale phone hacking” at one of Britain’s largest newspaper groups.

    Prince Harry has spent two days on the platform of London’s High Court reviewing the contents of dozens of articles dating back to the early years of his life as a tabloid subject.

    The Duke of Sussex claims that 148 articles documenting events such as visits by his mother, Princess Diana, to his school; an outbreak of glandular fever; phone discussions with his ex-girlfriend, Chelsy Davy; and illegal drug use cases contain details that journalists obtained through illegal means.

    The cumulative impact of a lifetime of ‘intrusive’ items created “enormous paranoia” in him, the royal said in a witness statement, adding the feeling he couldn’t even trust his doctors.

    A lawyer for ‘Mirror Group Newspapers’ (MGN) said details of the articles were obtained by legal means, including buying information from the prince’s acquaintances, reprinting information that had already been published in other newspapers and briefings for the press from members of the royal staff.

    On the dais, Prince Harry said all the articles can be linked to the “hallmarks” of illegal information gathering, such as missed calls and mysterious voicemails indicating phone hacking, and evidence of repeated instances of journalists being paid. to private investigators.

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    “In the heart of popular culture”

    It is rare that these accusations reach trial. The legal muscle and deep pockets of many British media companies act as an effective deterrent: ‘MGN’ has paid some $120 million to some 600 plaintiffs who accused them of phone hacking and obtaining stories through other illicit means. .

    But it’s even rarer for a member of the royal family to testify in court: Prince Harry is the first senior royal to appear on the stand since 1891.

    He brings a unique profile to the case, with a vast budget and a unique compilation of evidence. “Someone like Prince Harry is in a unique position as he will have been the subject of a large number of sensationalist articles over a significant period of time,” says Professor Paul Wragg, director of campaign group Hacked Off, which supports victims of press abuse.

    In this case, Prince Harry is the one who stands out among the more than 100 people who have sued ‘MGN’, ‘Daily Mirror’, ‘Sunday Mirror’ and ‘Sunday People’, accusing them of widespread illegal activities between 1991 and 2011 .

    The royal is one of four plaintiffs coming to trial as “representative cases.”

    A sketch by Elizabeth Cook shows Prince Harry being questioned by Andrew Green KC, at the High Court in central London on Wednesday June 7, 2023. ©AP/Elizabeth Cook

    Traditionally, the British tabloids occupy a unique place in the national discourse. “They are read across the country and set the agenda for public conversation,” says Adrian Bingham, Professor of Modern British History at the University of Sheffield. “Historically, they’ve been at the heart of popular culture.”

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    The period during which the exhibits were published coincides with the height of “a hugely competitive tabloid market, where competition always trumped ethics,” Bingham adds. “The scoop was everything to publishers. There was little restraint.”

    British public opinion was widely shocked when in 2011 the newspaper ‘The Guardian’ revealed that journalists from Rupert Murdoch’s ‘News of The World’ publication had interfered in police investigations into the disappearance of the missing girl, Millie Dowler, illegally listening to your voicemail messages.

    Subsequent investigations revealed that journalists had also hacked into the phones of victims of the 2005 London bombings. Relatives of deceased British soldiers and numerous celebrities, politicians and members of the royal family.

    Criminal cases were opened in which three journalists and editors of ‘News of the World’ were convicted of illegally obtaining confidential information. Other convicts were private investigators and members of the police.

    A public judicial inquiry, chaired by Justice Leveson in 2011-12, was based on the premise that within newsrooms, “whatever illegality was taking place was carried out by a limited number of individuals,” adds Wragg.

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    In “industrial scale”

    ‘MGN’ alleges that Prince Harry has not met the six-year deadline to present his lawsuit, but does not deny having participated in illegal practices. Ahead of this week’s trial, the publisher apologized “unreservedly” to the prince over a case of illegal information gathering.

    However, the Duke of Sussex and other plaintiffs seek to show that practices such as phone hacking occurred on an “industrial scale”, and not just in a group of newspapers.

    The trial against ‘MGN’ is the first of three that the royals hope to file. He and other plaintiffs are waiting to hear whether the courts will allow two separate cases against the parent companies of ‘The Sun’ and ‘Daily Mail’ newspapers to go to trial.

    “Prince Harry is certainly the leading figure, but we’re talking about hundreds of people who say there have been a significant number of lawbreaks over a long period of time,” Wragg says.

    If true, “it reopens the question of press regulation and its appropriateness in this country,” Wragg says.

    On Tuesday, at the end of the prince’s statement, defense lawyers stated that he had not presented “not a single piece of evidence” that his phone had been hacked by ‘MGN’ journalists.

    According to the royals, this was because the journalists in question had used “disposable phones” that allowed them to destroy call records.

    The case continues.

    Adapted from its original in English

    Source: France 24

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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