Prince Harry didn’t hold back during his Tuesday testimony against the Daily Mirror publisher. Harry accused the publisher of using illegal practices to obtain scoops on his personal life. Harry claimed that since he was born, he has experienced hostility from the press. He accused Mirror Group Newspaper of invading his privacy on an “industrial scale,” including hacking his phone to illegally listen to his voicemails, which often contained sensitive information about his personal relationships and whereabouts. Mirror Group has denied all phone hacking allegations made by Harry, although the publisher has admitted to hiring a private investigator to dig up dirt on the prince on one occasion. Harry testified that the Daily Mirror regularly obtained scoops about his life that were “suspicious” and served as evidence of the publisher’s phone tapping. The trial surrounds tabloid articles published by Mirror Group Newspaper from as far back as Harry’s 12th birthday in 1996, when the Mirror reported Harry was feeling “badly” about the divorce of his mother and father. The case against Mirror Group is the first of several lawsuits against the media to go to trial, and one of three alleging tabloid publishers unlawfully snooped on him in their cutthroat competition for scoops on the royal family. Hacking, the practice of guessing or using default security codes to listen to celebrities’ cellphone voice messages, was widely used by British tabloids in the early years of this century. Mirror Group has paid more than 100 million pounds to settle hundreds of unlawful information-gathering claims and printed an apology to phone hacking victims in 2015.
During his testimony, Harry spoke of his acute paranoia and how it has affected his relationships with family, friends, army colleagues, and girlfriends. Although Green, the Mirror Group’s lawyer, pressed Harry for further details, the prince claimed that every article published about him caused him distress, including those surrounding his romantic relationships and his mother visiting him at school. The Mirror Group claimed they wrote the stories based on eyewitness accounts and information from other news sources. Harry’s lawyer, David Sherborne, claimed that the stories about Harry were big sellers for the newspapers, and that around 2,500 articles were published about Harry between 1996 and 2011.
Harry was expected to appear in court on Monday for the trial’s opening statements but was absent. He visited Los Angeles instead for the birthday of his two-year-old daughter. On Tuesday, Harry wore a dark suit and tie to the courthouse and spoke sombrely as he was sworn in as a witness, becoming the first member of the royal family to testify in court in more than a century.