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Convicted phone hack embedded in Duke of Sussex’s team is unreliable, says Mirror’s barrister | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

A convicted phone hacker is “embedded” in the Duke of Sussex’s legal team in his claim against the Mirror Group, the newspaper’s barrister has told a High Court judge.

Andrew Green KC, representing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), suggested to the court that Graham Johnson, who gave evidence on behalf of the Duke, was an “unreliable witness”.

The barrister said: “It is quite extraordinary for an absolutely essential witness to be so embedded in the team and forking out quite substantial sums of his own money to buy documents to be used in the litigation.”

“Nowhere in our closing submissions do we suggest that Mr Johnson was lying to the court, but we do suggest that he is an unreliable witness,” he added.

It comes after Mr Green highlighted the “extremely close collaboration” between the Duke’s legal team and two convicted hackers and disgraced journalists, Mr Johnson and Dan Evans.

The court was told on Wednesday that Mr Johnson offered private investigators “pretty large sums of money” as well as book and film deals if they gave evidence on behalf of celebrities.

Last month, Mr Johnson told the High Court during his cross-examination as a witness on behalf of Prince Harry, that he was assisting the Duke’s lawyers by gathering evidence of alleged unlawful activities at MGN.

The Duke is suing MGN over unlawful information gathering, including phone hacking, citing 148 articles he alleged had been obtained illegally, such as by intercepting his voicemails.

Mr Johnson, 55 and a “self-confessed professional liar,” is a former investigations editor for the Sunday Mirror who received a suspended jail sentence after admitting voicemail hacking in 2014.

Key witnesses

Mr Johnson and Mr Evans were both key witnesses in the Duke and three other high profile claimants’ ongoing case against MGN.

The publisher’s barrister, Mr Green, made the comments while making his closing speech on Thursday, which will continue into Friday.

In response, Mr Justice Fancourt, presiding over the case, agreed that it was “highly unusual” for Mr Johnson to be assisting the claimants to get evidence for their claims.

During his closing speech, Mr Green emphasised that the claims of unlawful information gathering being made at MGN are “career and reputation destroying allegations”.

He also urged the High Court judge not to be “coaxed” into reading “bland wordings on third-party invoices as if they bear sinister meanings”.

MGN is largely contesting the claims and denies that any of the articles complained of resulted from phone hacking, while contending that the vast majority did not arise from any other unlawful activity.

The trial is due to conclude on Friday and Mr Fancourt will deliver his ruling at a later date.


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