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Prince Harry arrives to give evidence in phone hacking trial | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

Prince Harry has arrived at the High Court to give hotly-anticipated evidence in his privacy battle against a tabloid publisher.

The Duke of Sussex, 38, was flanked by a security detail and one of his lawyers as he pulled up in a chauffeur-driven black car and walked past banks of photographers, TV cameras, and curious members of the public outside the Rolls Building of the High Court.

His appearance at court to be questioned at length over his private life is a landmark moment in British legal history.

Harry is suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over claims that his phone was systematically hacked and he was subjected to media intrusion and unlawful newsgathering techniques for more than 15 years.

He says the activities of three newspapers, the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People, wrecked friendships and romantic relationships, and sent him into a spiral of depression.

MGN denies allegations that Harry was a victim of phone hacking, saying there is no call data or first-hand evidence to back up the claim. It has admitted just one incident of a private investigator for the newspaper unlawfully targeting the Duke.

(Getty Images)

Tuesday is a landmark moment, as Harry becomes the first senior Royal in modern times to voluntarily enter the witness box at the High Court.

The case against MGN is part of a deeply personal crusade against sections of the British media, who he accuses of relentlessly invading his privacy during his youth and early adult life.

Harry’s appearance follows a debacle on Monday – the first day of his individual case against MGN – when the Prince was missing from court.

Trial judge Mr Justice Fancourt had told Harry to attend on Monday, to be ready to start his evidence once opening speeches from lawyers had concluded, and said he was “a little surprised” to learn the Duke was not present, having attended his daughter Princess Lilibet’s birthday party in LA the previous day.

A different witness had to be called in to fill the court time, delaying Harry’s evidence until 10.30am on Tuesday.

Opening Harry’s case on Monday, his barrister David Sherborne insisted the Prince does not have a “vendetta” against the tabloid media, but has pursued this and other legal cases to “focus attention” on unlawful activities by journalists.



Among the stories alleged to be the product of unlawful activities are a report of Harry suffering a back injury while playing rugby at school, strained relations with his brother Prince William over their mother’s former butler Paul Burrell, and revelations of Harry’s activities in nightclubs as a young man.

It is said MGN journalists used a variety of unlawful methods, including ‘blagging’ personal information, to spin a “web around the Prince in the hope they would catch the valuable information they sought”.

His friends and associates were allegedly targeted, while his romance with first love Chelsy Davy was put under immense strain as the media scrambled to name her and reveal personal details about the couple’s life together.

“No aspect of the young prince’s life was safe”, said Mr Sherborne. “It was as if they never felt they were on their own, which placed a huge amount of strain on their relationship and ultimately led Ms Davy to decide a royal life was not for her.”

 (George Cracknell Wright)

(George Cracknell Wright)

Mr Sherborne also showed the court letters sent by Harry’s late mother Princess Diana to TV presenter Michael Barrymore, claiming they provided supporting evidence of phone hacking.

MGN reporters revealed that Barrymore had struck up a secret friendship with the Princess during his struggles with coming out as gay and his battle with drug addiction.

In a final letter to Barrymore, two months before her death, Diana’s words suggested he had cut off contact after details of their relationship hit the press.

MGN’s lawyers say allegations that phone hacking was involved is “pure speculation”.

Harry now faces questions about deeply personal aspects of his life, including his decision to don a Nazi uniform to a fancy dress party, drug-taking in his youth, and feuding with his brother.

Mr Sherborne suggested on Monday that “seeds were sown” for Prince William and Harry’s currently strained relationship by newspapers articles in the past questioning their bond.

“Trust begins to be eroded”, he said. “Mistrust set in from an early age because of exactly this sort of unlawful activity.”

He could also face questions about his relationship with King Charles, Queen Camilla, and wife Meghan Markle.

Harry has put forward 140 articles from MGN newspapers from 1996 and 2011 which he says were produced using unlawful methods, with 33 due to be pored over in detail.

When the trial began, lawyers for MGN offered “unreservedly apologies” to Harry for one instance of unlawful information gathering, when a private investigator for The People obtained details of Harry’s evening at Chinawhite club in Soho in February 2004.

Andrew Green KC, for MGN, said the company’s position is “there’s simply no evidence capable of supporting a finding the Duke of Sussex was every hacked, still less that he was hacked on a habitual basis.”

On unlawful newsgathering, he said MGN “doesn’t accept the evidence in relation to payment records support his extensive claims.”

The trial continues.


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