28 June 2023, 05:55
Prince Harry should only get £500 in compensation for making phone hacking claims against the publisher of the Mirror, the High Court has heard.
Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) has argued that the Duke of Sussex was not a victim of phone hacking, claiming that his case was an attempt to change the British media.
MGN has accepted one instance where private information from Harry was obtained illegally at a nightclub, with the duke already receiving an apology.
Andrew Green KC, MGN’s lawyer, said Harry was entitled to no more than £500 for this “isolated and limited” incident.
Mr Green also argued that the rest of the duke’s case should now be thrown out of court, saying that the responsibility to prove remains Harry’s, despite his public figure.
While Mr Green said he had sympathy for Harry “in view of the extraordinary degree of media intrusion he has been subject to throughout his life”, he said this was not the same as hacking.
“The true purpose of this litigation appears not to be to achieve compensation for unlawful activity by MGN, but instead it forms part of the Duke of Sussex’s campaign to ‘reform’ the British Press,” Mr Green said.
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He added that there was an “absence of evidence” of phone-hacking by the Mirror, arguing that Harry has a campaign “against general intrusion by the entire media”.
Mr Green therefore urged the judge to reject the duke’s phone hacking claims against the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People newspapers.
Meanwhile, David Sherborne – who represents Harry alongside three other claimants – said there is “hard evidence” that hacking took place at the Mirror newspapers in the 90s and up until 2011.
These were the “stock in trade” across the entire period, Mr Sherborne said.
He also pointed out to the judge that key witnesses did not attend the trial, including former editor of the Mirror, Piers Morgan.
The trial is set to conclude on Friday. Mr Justice Fancourt will provide his decision at a later date.