Prince Harry Wins Phone Hacking Lawsuit | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

Prince Harry has won his phone hacking lawsuit against Mirror Group Newspapers and was awarded over £140,000 ($180,000).

The presiding judge, Justice Fancourt, handed down the ruling in High Court in London on Friday morning, stating that 15 of 33 articles at the center of Harry’s claim published by Mirror Group Newspapers “were the product of phone hacking of his mobile phone or the mobile phones of his associates, or the product of other unlawful information-gathering.”

The Duke of Sussex’s lawyer David Sherbourne read a long statement outside court on behalf of Harry, who called the victory “vindicating and affirming.”

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“Today is a great day for truth as well as accountability,” Harry said.

“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,” he said.

David Sherbourne reads a written statement on behalf of his legal client Prince Harry following the ruling in his favor in a lawsuit against the Mirror Group on December 15, 2023 in London, England.

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Harry, 39, was not in court for the ruling “due to the short notice which was given of this hearing,” according to his lawyer. He is believed to have watched via a video feed.

Prince Harry was one of several claimants who sued the Mirror Group Newspapers [MGN] over alleged unlawful information gathering and testified against the publisher of Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, The Sunday People and more at High Court over the summer. 

Following Friday’s ruling, a spokesperson for Mirror Group Newspapers said in a statement: “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,” the statement continued.

Prince Harry first filed a lawsuit against MGN in 2019, alleging that his phone voicemails were hacked using unlawful information gathering. MGN has denied the allegations. 

In June, King Charles’ youngest son made history as the first prominent member of the British royal family to give evidence in court in 130 years when he took the stand against the newspaper group. The last royal to do so was King Edward VII, who testified as a witness in a divorce case in 1870 and again in a slander trial over a card game in 1890 before becoming monarch.

Prince Harry arrives at the Mirror Group Phone hacking trial at the Rolls Building at High Court on June 6.

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The Duke of Sussex first appeared in court for the lawsuit on June 6, and argued that about 140 articles published from 1996 to 2010 contain information obtained via unlawful methods, the BBC reported. Thirty-three of the stories were selected for consideration in the court case, the outlet said. 

On his first day in court, the Duke of Sussex underwent almost five hours of questioning by MGN lawyer Andrew Green on the witness stand. Prince Harry said that “every single article has caused me distress,” claiming that the behavior of people around him changed due to the contents of the articles. He added that tabloids have “blood on their hands” for the pain they’ve caused.

While cameras are banned from the Royal Courts of Justice in London, court artist Elizabeth Cook gave a glimpse inside with sketches. The drawings depicted Prince Harry giving evidence from the witness stand on June 6 while his attorney David Sherborne and Justice Fancourt listened. An illustration also showed Green cross-examining the prince. 

PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo.

At the end of the session, the judge told Harry to not discuss his evidence with anyone overnight. He joked in response by asking if that included his wife and children, noting he would be likely connecting with them on a FaceTime call. Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle relocated from the U.K. to her home state of California in 2020, and share son Prince Archie, 4, and daughter Princess Lilibet, 2.

On June 7, Prince Harry’s second day in court, Green continued questioning the prince on some of the specific stories. Many of the articles discussed on day two involved his relationship with his former girlfriend Chelsy Davy, who he dated on and off from 2004 to 2011.

An article from 2006 stated that Prince Harry visited a strip club, reportedly upsetting Davy.

“My girlfriend’s number was bizarrely in the hands of Mirror journalists,” Prince Harry said. “Very suspicious that they had her number […] I don’t believe she would give any journalist her number.”

Regarding a 2009 article about Prince Harry alleging trying to win Davy back after a breakup, the Duke of Sussex was asked if he was aware that people close to Davy were talking about her to the media. Harry replied that he doubted that was happening.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, leaves after giving evidence at the Mirror Group Phone hacking trial at the Rolls Building at High Court on June 7.

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When asked about a transcript of one of Davy’s friends speaking to the media, Prince Harry said he would “question the validity of this.” Harry claims that it was taken from “a false e-mail to hide the true nature of how [MGN] got the information.”

Over 100 people are suing MGN for alleged illegal activity between 1991 and 2022, Reuters reported. The claimants’ attorneys allege that senior editors and executives at MGN were aware of and approved such actions. The newspaper group has denied the accusations and said that some of the claims were brought too late.

The Duke of Sussex was one of four “representative” claimants chosen as “test cases” from a larger group of high-profile figures suing the publisher, The Independent previously reported. The other claimants selected for trial are actress Nikki Sanderson, actor Michael Turner and Fiona Wightman, ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse. Like Harry, all appeared in court in June. 

The MGN lawsuit is one of four cases Prince Harry is currently involved in against newspaper publishers in the U.K.


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