7th June 2023 – (London) Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has launched a scathing courtroom attack on the U.K. newspaper industry and democratic government, accusing them of unlawful activities and harming democracy. His evidence was given against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), which publishes the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, and Sunday People, and is accused of widespread unlawful information gathering between 1991 and 2011. Harry is the most notable of around 100 actors, sports stars, celebrities, and others suing the tabloid publisher at London’s High Court.
During his testimony, Harry called the U.K. press “vile” and questioned how much more blood would stain their typing fingers before someone could put a stop to their madness. He accused some editors and journalists of causing pain, upset, and even death. The Duke of Sussex also criticised the U.K. government, despite the royal family’s stance on remaining politically neutral. He said that democracy fails when the press fails to scrutinise and hold the government accountable and instead chooses to get into bed with them to ensure the status quo.
Harry’s testimony also referenced his late mother, Princess Diana, who died in 1997 after the car she was being driven in crashed in Paris while being pursued by paparazzi photographers. He said that he had been targeted by the U.K. press since his schooldays and that 140 stories which appeared in MGN papers resulted from phone-hacking or other unlawful behaviour.
MGN has previously admitted that its titles were involved in phone-hacking and settled more than 600 claims. During the trial, the company’s lawyer, Andrew Green, apologised to Harry on MGN’s behalf over one instance in which it admitted unlawful information gathering, saying “it should never have happened, and it will not happen again.” Green also questioned Harry over the articles and suggested that the specific MGN stories were based on information already in the public domain.
This case is one of four that Prince Harry is pursuing at the High Court against British newspapers. He is also suing News Group Newspapers (NGN) and Associated Newspapers (ANL) over phone hacking and illicit privacy breaches. Both companies deny unlawful activity. Harry’s appearance in the witness box is rare, with the last British royal to do so being Edward VII in the 1890s during a slander trial over a card game. The case highlights the ongoing battle between the press and those in the public eye over privacy and the ethics of journalism.