Duke Of Sussex Testifies On ‘Long-Standing Hostility’ Toward The Press | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

Updated Jun 6, 2023, 11:59am EDT


Prince Harry appeared in court Tuesday at the trial for his lawsuit against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over allegations of phone hacking, detailing his “hostile” relationship with the press and the negative impact salacious articles about him had on his life, marking the first time in more than a century a member of the royal family has given evidence at trial.

Key Facts

Prince Harry testified at the High Court in London on the second day of his case being heard in court, which concerns dozens of allegations of phone hacking and other unlawful information-gathering practices spanning from 1996 to 2010, according to the BBC, and is part of a broader trial against MGN.

Harry was not present for the first day of his trial—which the judge said he was a “little surprised” by—at which his attorney argued the alleged phone hacking “acted like a web around the prince in the hope it would catch the valuable information that they sought through these unlawful means.”

Harry testified about his “hostility” toward the press, which he said he’s had “since I was born,” saying articles written about him when he was a child were “were incredibly invasive” and played a “destructive role” in his “growing up,” leading to him losing friendships, and that he and wife Meghan Markle’s move to California was “in large part… due to the constant intrusion, inciting of hatred and harassment by the tabloid press into every aspect of our private lives.”

The tabloids cast Harry as a “‘the thicko’, the cheat, the underage drinker,” he said in his witness statement, saying those stereotypes led to a “downward spiral” for him as he “play[ed] up” to the headlines and felt that “if they are printing this rubbish about me and people were believing it, I may as well do the crime.’”

He spoke about his mother Princess Diana, saying that stories about him affected “her reaction to me as her son” and detailed the “paranoia” she faced from her own struggles with the tabloid press, writing in his witness statement that while she was accused of being paranoid, “She was fearful of what was actually happening to her and now I know that I was the same.”

Harry, also known as the Duke of Sussex, said he would notice signs of phone hacking like voicemails disappearing, testifying the alleged phone hacking led to pieces “that were often wrong but interspersed with snippets of truth” and “created an alternative and distorted version of me and my life to the general public.”

Crucial Quote

“How much more blood will stain their typing fingers before someone can put a stop to this madness,” Harry wrote in his witness statement. When asked about that comment during his cross-examination, Harry said it was aimed at the “press more broadly,” saying editors and journalists have blood on their hands “for causing a lot of pain, upset, and in some cases inadvertently death,” as quoted by the Guardian.

Big Number

148. That’s the number of articles involving Harry he’s alleged were reported using unlawful practices, 33 of which will be presented at trial, including pieces involving Diana, his brother William, father King Charles III (then Prince Charles) and ex-girlfriend Chelsea Davy.

Chief Critic

MGN has denied Harry’s allegations against it and that the newspaper group’s journalists hacked his phones for any of the stories in question, though it has admitted to phone hacking in other cases. “There is simply no evidence capable of supporting the finding that the Duke of Sussex was hacked, still less on a habitual basis,” Andrew Green, counsel for MGN, said during the trial Monday, as quoted by the BBC. “There’s no evidence to support a finding that any mobile phone owned or used by the Duke of Sussex was hacked. Zilch, Zero, Nil, De Nada, Niente, Nothing.”


Green countered during the trial Tuesday that private information Harry objected to in pieces about him may have been obtained through legal means, noting instances in which the Palace had released statements about details in question, other outlets had reported on developments before MGN’s newspapers and that people could have given outlets information. Harry did not provide clear proof to back up his claims of phone hacking and illegal tactics, telling Green on several occasions to “ask the journalist how they obtained this information,” Sky News notes. The Duke of Sussex testified about several instances in which there isn’t a clear explanation of how journalists would have obtained information without resorting to unlawful tactics, however, like flight information that the Palace would have kept private for security reasons or details of his private phone calls with Davy.

What To Watch For

Harry’s testimony is expected to continue through the end of the day Tuesday and possibly into Wednesday, the last day when his case is scheduled to be heard at trial. The Duke of Sussex is one of four claimants whose allegations against MGN are being heard at the trial, along with actors from the U.K. television series Coronation Street and Fiona Wightman, the ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse. The trial began in May and is slated to end by the end of June, according to Sky News, and a ruling from the judge is expected later this year. The four claimaints are part of more than 100 people who have brought lawsuits against MGN over the newspapers’ allegedly deceptive and unlawful practices, and the trial is being viewed as a test case for how the other cases will be resolved.

Surprising Fact

Harry’s testimony marks the first time a member of the U.K.’s royal family has appeared in court to give evidence and be cross-examined since Prince Edward, the son of Queen Victoria who became King Edward VII, took the stand in 1891 as part of a slander trial.

Key Background

Harry’s case against MGN is one of three pending legal cases the Duke of Sussex has against U.K. publishers over allegations of phone hacking and other deceptive practices, along with Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, which publishes the Sun, and Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers Ltd. Markle has also brought litigation alleging violations of her privacy, winning a case against Associated Newspapers involving articles that reproduced a “personal and private” letter to her father. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been heavily outspoken against Britain’s tabloid industry and its allegedly intrusive violations into their private life, which they’ve said played a key role in their decision to step down as working royals in 2020.

Further Reading

Prince Harry surrounded by ‘web of unlawful activity’, court hears (BBC)

Prince Harry set to give evidence in phone hacking trial (CNN)

Queen Victoria’s Son Was the Last British Royal to Testify in Court (New York Times)

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