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Prince Harry was victim of phone hacking by U.K. tabloids, court rules | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


London — Britain’s High Court ruled that Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, was the victim of phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), publisher of the Daily Mirror tabloid, on Friday. He has been awarded 140,600 pounds, which is about $180,000 in damages.

The presiding judge in the case at Britain’s High Court, Justice Timothy Fancourt, said in a statement that he had awarded Harry the “modest” sum, as the case had shown the Mirror Group “only played a small part in everything that the Duke suffered” and “was not responsible for all the unlawful activity that was directed at the Duke, and that a good deal of the oppressive behaviour of the Press towards the Duke over the years was not unlawful at all.”

The judge said he’d found that only 15 out of the 33 articles that were scrutinized in the case were the product of phone hacking or other illegal information gathering.

“I consider that his phone was only hacked to a modest extent, and that this was probably carefully controlled by certain people at each newspaper,” Fancourt said. “There was a tendency for the Duke in his evidence to assume that everything published was the product of voicemail interception because phone hacking was rife within Mirror Group at the time. But phone hacking was not the only journalistic tool at the time, and his claims in relation to the other 18 articles did not stand up to careful analysis.”

He said he’d determined the award for the prince “in respect of each of the articles and invoices where unlawful information gathering was proved” and “to compensate the Duke fully for the distress that he suffered as a result of the unlawful activity directed at him and those close to him.”

In a statement read by his lawyer after the judgement, Harry said he was “happy to have won this case.”

“I respectfully call on the authorities, financial regulator, police to do their duty and investigate bringing charges against Daily Mirror Group,” Harry said in his statement.

“I’ve been told that slaying dragons will get you burned. But in light of today’s victory and the importance of doing what is needed for a free and honest press — it’s a worthwhile price to pay. The mission continues,” Harry said.

The judge said “there can be no doubt” that Piers Morgan, a media personality who served as the editor of the Mirror tabloid during the years that some of the reports referenced in the lawsuit were published, would have known about the phone hacking.

“I’ve never hacked a phone or told anyone else to hack a phone,” Morgan said Friday in response, adding that “Prince Harry’s outrage at media intrusion into the private lives of the royal family is only matched by his own hypocritical enthusiasm for doing it himself,” and that he “wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped him round his California tanned faced.”

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A spokesperson for Mirror Group Newspapers said the company welcomed “today’s judgment that gives the business the necessary clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago.

“Where historical wrongdoing took place, we apologise unreservedly, have taken full responsibility and paid appropriate compensation,” the statement said.

In June, Prince Harry became the most senior royal to ever take the stand in a U.K. court case, testifying over two days in this case. 

Harry, along with other U.K. celebrities, brought the suit against MGN over alleged phone hacking.

The Mirror Group denied any unlawful information gathering in relation to the 207 newspaper stories mentioned in the case, though it previously admitted that the hacking of phones had taken place at its newspapers.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have filed at least seven lawsuits against U.S. and U.K. media outlets since 2019, and Harry is currently involved in four cases against U.K. tabloid newspapers. 

He is also part of a group alleging unlawful information gathering at Associated Newspapers Limited, which publishes The Daily Mail, and against News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun tabloid.

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