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TIMELINE | Prince Harry’s phone-hacking case, and how it started with William’s injured knee | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


TIMELINE: A closer look at the phone-hacking scandal involving Prince Harry, Hugh Grant and more.


Prince Harry has been in and out of court in recent weeks and he’ll soon testify in his phone-hacking case against the British tabloid press.

Harry will become the first British royal to take the stand since the 19th Century as he takes on Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), News Group Newspapers (NGN) and more, accusing them of phone hacking and other unlawful behaviour, dating back to when he was a teenager – and lasting more than a decade.

Britain’s phone-hacking scandal first blew up in 2006 and saw an investigation into journalists working for media mogul Rupert Murdoch, before the Leveson report was published in 2012. But it was all triggered by Prince William – and his injured knee.

OPINION | Did he call it? How a triggering car chase solidified Harry’s fight against the press

Here’s a timeline of the events:

2005

News of the World (NoW) prints a story about Prince William having injured his knee. Buckingham Palace lays a complaint, prompting a police inquiry, claiming the information was obtained from a voicemail that was hacked.

2006

NoW royal reporter Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire are arrested for illegal phone hacking.

2007

January: Goodman and Mulcaire are jailed after they admit hacking the phones of royal aides.

NoW editor Andy Coulson resigns and later that year, he becomes Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications chief.

2011

January: Coulson resigns from Downing Street amid new claims about hacking at the tabloid. Meanwhile, Scotland Yard reopens the investigation into phone hacking.

April: News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, offers an “unreserved apology” for phone hacking and sets up a compensation fund. Actor Sienna Miller is among those who receive a payout.

July: Milly Dowler, a schoolgirl murdered in 2002, is revealed as one of the hacking victims, causing public outrage.

Cameron announces a public inquiry into the way the press operates, led by former judge, Brian Leveson.

Rupert Murdoch shuts down the NoW. The Sunday tabloid had been operating for 168 years.

Murdoch’s News Corp also withdraws its bid for full ownership of pay-TV giant BSkyB.

Rupert Murdoch.

Photo: Getty Images

Rebekah Brooks, who edited the NoW when Dowler’s phone was hacked, quits as head of Murdoch’s British newspaper unit, News International. She is arrested on suspicion of hacking and bribing officials two days later.

Britain’s top police officer, Scotland Yard chief Paul Stephenson, resigns over the force’s links to the NoW. He is followed the next day by his assistant commissioner, John Yates, who refused to reopen the police investigation into hacking in 2009.

Murdoch, his son James and Brooks are grilled by Britain’s parliamentary media committee over the scandal. A protester, Jonathan May-Bowles, aka standup comic and UK Uncut activist Jonnie Marbles, attempts to use a foam pie to attack Murdoch.

November: The Leveson inquiry begins formal hearings.

Dowler’s parents tell the Leveson inquiry they were left with false hope that she was alive after someone – now revealed to be a journalist – picked up her voicemails when she went missing.

Hugh Grant uses the inquiry to launch a stinging attack on the tabloids.

2012

January: Current and former editors of Murdoch’s daily tabloid, The Sun, tell the Leveson inquiry the paper could be a “powerful force for good”.

Police arrest four journalists from The Sun for paying public officials for information. More journalists and officials are arrested in the following weeks.

February: Murdoch announces the launch of The Sun on Sunday to replace the NoW.

April: Adam Smith, an adviser to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, resigns after James Murdoch tells the Leveson inquiry that Smith leaked details to a Murdoch lobbyist. Hunt defies intense pressure to quit.

Murdoch tells Leveson there was a “cover-up” but he was not a part of it.

May: Parliament’s media committee publishes a scathing report that declares Rupert Murdoch unfit to lead a major global company.

Brooks reveals embarrassing texts to the Leveson inquiry showing her close friendship with Cameron, including that he signed his “lol”, which he mistakenly thought meant “lots of love”.

Brooks, her husband and four others are charged with trying to hide evidence from police.

June: Cameron denies to the inquiry that he made any deals with the Murdoch press. More embarrassing text messages between him and Brooks emerge.

July: Prosecutors charge Coulson and Brooks with phone hacking. Their trials are later set for September 2013.

November: Brooks and Coulson are charged with paying bribes.

Britain’s long-awaited Leveson report into the culture, practices and ethics of the press, is delivered, and it proposes a new regulatory body underpinned by law.

Key takeaways from the Leveson Report:

Sir Brian Henry Leveson tells a press conference: “This is not and cannot reasonably or fairly be characterised as statutory regulation of the press. I am proposing independent regulation of the press organised by the press itself with a statutory process to support press freedom, provide stability and guarantee for the public that this new body is independent and effective.”

He says though newspapers have a vital role in a democracy “as guardians of the interests of the public, as a critical witness to events, as the standard bearer for those who have no one else to speak up for them”, some behaviour, the report adds, has been “outrageous”, displaying “recklessness in prioritising sensational stories, almost irrespective of the harm that the stories may cause”.

Leveson calls for greater transparency between the press and politicians, while recommending police officers record all contacts with the media, despite not having found evidence to suggest corruption between the media and authorities.

Leveson adds his work is now done, but says he hopes politicians of all parties will unite to act on his recommendations.

“The ball moves back into the politicians’ court,” he says. “They must now decide who guards the guardians.”

2013

February: News International settles 144 lawsuits. Several others will go to trial later.

March: Labour Party MP Siobhain McDonagh accepts “very substantial damages” and an apology from The Sun for phone hacking.

June: Eunice Huthart, Angelina Jolie’s stunt double, sues News Corp. for possible phone hacking, marking the first US lawsuit against News Corp.

October: The trial of Brooks, Coulson and former NoW managing editor Stuart Kuttner starts. Meanwhile, former NoW employees Neville Thurlbeck, James Weatherup and Greg Miskiw plead guilty to phone hacking.

Prosecutors reveal that Brooks and Coulson had a secret affair.

December: Court hears NoW hacked the phone of Catherine, Princess of Wales while she was dating Prince William.

2014

January: Sienna Miller testifies about an alleged affair with Daniel Craig, exposed by a tabloid journalist who hacked Craig’s voicemail.

February: One charge against Brooks is dropped. The charge is related to a photograph of Prince William dressed in a bikini at a costume party that was acquired by The Sun. Later, in court, Brooks denies approving the practice of phone hacking while editor of NoW.

June: Coulson is found guilty at the Old Bailey of conspiracy to hack phones. He will, however, be retried on charges of conspiring to cause misconduct in public office. This, in relation to the alleged purchase of confidential royal phone directories from palace police.

Brooks and the others are cleared of all charges.

July: Coulson is sentenced to 18 months in prison.

2015

Coulson is cleared of perjury charges.

Meanwhile, Brooks is confirmed as CEO of News UK under Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. News UK is the publisher of The Times, The Sunday Times, and The Sun newspapers.

Piers Morgan, Rebekah Wade, now Brooks, and Andy Coulson attend the book launch of Don’t You Know Who I Am?: Insider Diaries Of Fame, Power And Naked Ambition written by Piers Morgan, at Paper Club on April 18, 2007 in London, England.

Photo: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

2019

Prince Harry and wife, Meghan Markle, begin filing their first legal cases against the press. This, following their successful Sussex Royal Tour of Africa, during which the Duchess of Sussex reveals the effect the negative press has had on her mental health.

2020

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex step down as working members of the firm before leaving the UK, first for Canada, before later settling in the US.

Several lawsuits follow over the years, the couple becomes financially independent, and a royal rift develops between Princes Harry and William.

2022

Prince Harry, along with others, including singer Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley, Sadie Frost and mother of murdered teenager, Stephen Lawrence, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, launch a legal action against the publisher of the Daily Mail newspaper, Associated Newspapers. The allegations include phone hacking, obtaining medical information, accessing bank accounts and paying off police officials for inside information.

The publisher denies the claims.

2023

March: Prince Harry’s lawsuit gets a May 2023 trial date.

He makes his first unexpected appearance in court. Days later, he takes aim at the royals. “The Institution was without a doubt withholding information from me for a long time about… phone hacking,” Harry said in a statement.

April: It is revealed Prince William settled a phone-hacking claim against Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper arm for a “huge sum” after a secret deal was struck with Buckingham Palace.

May: Mirror Group Newspapers apologises to Prince Harry for unlawfully seeking information about him at the start of the royal’s lawsuit against its publisher over alleged phone hacking, meanwhile, Piers Morgan, who was once the editor of the Daily Mirror, knew about the phone-hacking scandal, claims Prince Harry’s biographer, Omid Scobie, as he recalls his time working as an intern for the publication.

Days later, a spokesperson for Harry and Meghan release a statement after the couple are involved in a “near catastrophic car chase” involving paparazzi, triggering public outcry after Princess Diana’s death in 1997.

Diana was killed when her limousine crashed as it sped away from chasing paparazzi in Paris.

Harry is set to take the stand in the coming days, and will be the first British royal to do so since the 19th Century. 

(Sources: AFP, Reuters)   

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