Prince Harry has begun to give evidence at London’s High Court in his lawsuit against a tabloid publisher whose titles he accuses of phone-hacking and other unlawful activities.
Andrew Green, the lawyer for Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People that are being sued, said he plans to question Harry for a day and a half.
Harry, the fifth-in-line to the throne, briefly smiled as he passed the phalanx of waiting photographers and camera crews on Tuesday when he arrived at the modern Rolls Building in central London before the rare court appearance by a royal.
He is one of more than 100 people suing MGN over allegations of widespread wrongdoing between 1991 and 2011.
The prince says more than 33 newspaper articles written about him were based on information which had been unlawfully obtained.
The MGN trial began last month, with lawyers for Harry and the other claimants seeking to prove that unlawful information gathering was carried out with the knowledge and approval of senior editors and executives.
Harry is one of four test cases, and his specific allegations form the focus of the first three days of this week.
However, he did not appear on Monday, having left the United States, where he now lives with his American wife Meghan, only the previous evening as it was his daughter Lilibet’s birthday on Sunday.
The judge, Timothy Fancourt, said he was surprised at his absence.
Thousands of stories
Harry’s lawyer David Sherborne said on Monday that the prince had been the subject of thousands of MGN stories since he was a young boy, and as such was a regular target of unlawful behaviour, with his late mother Princess Diana, also a victim of hacking.
“Nothing was sacrosanct or out of bounds” for the tabloids, the lawyer said.
Harry wanted to focus attention on the unlawful activities rather than because he has a “vendetta” against the press, Sherborne said.
MGN, now owned by Reach, did apologise at the start of the trial after admitting the Sunday People had unlawfully sought information about Harry on one occasion, and has previously admitted its titles were involved in phone-hacking, settling more than 600 claims.
But Green, MGN’s lawyer, said there was no evidence that Harry had ever been the victim of phone-hacking, let alone habitually as he claimed, and rejected he had been the victim of any further unlawful actions.
Buckingham Palace is likely to feature prominently in Harry’s cross-examination, with MGN arguing that some of the personal information involved had come from senior royal aides, including from one of his father’s former top officials.
In his memoir, Netflix documentary series and other TV interviews, the prince has repeatedly accused his family and their aides of colluding with tabloids to enhance their reputations at his expense.
The palace has not commented on those accusations.
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