Prince Harry Wins Major Phone Hacking Court Case Against Mirror Group | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

Prince Harry won a stunning victory Friday in his legal battle against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), after a judge found the newspaper group engaged in “extensive” phone hacking, and conducted a board-level cover-up of its unlawful information gathering.

In a withering verdict, the judge said senior executives and even in-house lawyers knew about the activity. The judge added that, astonishingly, phone hacking and “blagging” was going on even while a huge national inquiry into phone hacking, known as the Leveson inquiry, was being conducted.

Harry alleged that journalists and private detectives working for MGN used deceptive information retrieval techniques to publish 147 stories between 1996 and 2010.

Of these, a sample of 33 were selected to be adjudicated as part of his claim.

The judge found that 15 of the 33 articles were sourced via illegal information gathering.

Harry was awarded modest damages of about $178,000, but he has repeatedly stated the trial is not about the money but holding the newspapers to account. Harry’s costs are likely to be in the region of $2 million, and he may not get these all back.

The verdict handed down Friday will be sweet vindication for Harry, and the latest victory in his bitter war on the British tabloid press, which he accuses of ruining significant periods of his life.

Harry is likely to have received the judgment earlier this week.

Piers Morgan, who has become one of Harry and his wife Meghan Markle’s chief antagonists, was the editor of the Mirror at the time but did not give evidence in the case. Harry named him in his statement after the verdict was delivered, recommending U.K. authorities, including the police, continue their inquiries.

Prince Harry’s representative David Sherborne, speaking outside the court, reading a statement from the duke, said “board directors, senior executives, and editors such as Piers Morgan clearly knew about or were involved in these illegal activities. Between them, they even went as far as lying under oath to Parliament.”

The verdict came after a blockbuster trial this summer, in which Harry took the stand and was cross-examined for two days. He was the first senior royal to give evidence in open court for more than 130 years. He said the appearance of stories about his private life made him paranoid and ruined relationships.

At the outset of the trial seven months ago, the High Court was informed that the publisher of the Daily Mirror had issued an “unreserved” apology for one instance of unlawful information gathering. The group had previously admitted to phone hacking, and Harry essentially argued that although the evidence was circumstantial, there was no way MGN could have published all of the stories without using unlawful information-gathering techniques.

The judge took seven months to reach what was a complex judgment.

In one of the most damning sections, the judge wrote, “⁠I have also awarded a sum for aggravated damages, to reflect the particular hurt and sense of outrage that the Duke feels because two directors of Trinity Mirror plc, to whom the board had delegated day-to-day responsibility for such matters, knew about the illegal activity that was going at their newspapers and could and should have put a stop to it. Instead of doing so, they turned a blind eye to what was going on, and positively concealed it.”

A spokesperson for MGN said, “We welcome 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.”

Harry may now go forward with claims on more than 100 more stories published by the Mirror.


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