Prince Harry’s battle with British tabloids heads for courtroom showdown

Prince Harry’s battle with the British press is headed for a showdown in a London courtroom this week with the publisher of the Daily Mirror.
The Duke of Sussex is scheduled to testify in the High Court after his lawyer presents opening statements Monday in the first of his legal cases to go to trial. It’s one of three alleging tabloids unlawfully snooped on the prince in their cutthroat competition for scoops on the royal family. Harry will be the first member of the British royal family in more than a century to testify in court, and is expected to describe his anguish and anger over being hounded by the media throughout his life, and its impact on those around him.Harry, 38, has blamed paparazzi for causing the car crash that killed his mother, Princess Diana, and said harassment and intrusion by the UK press, including allegedly racist articles, led him and his wife, Meghan, to flee to the US in 2020 and leave royal life behind.
Articles he has cited date back to this 12th birthday when the Mirror reported Harry was feeling “badly” about the divorce of his mother and father, now King Charles III.Harry said in court documents that the reports made him wonder who he could trust as he feared friends and associates were betraying him by leaking information to the newspapers. His circle of friends grew smaller and he suffered “huge bouts of depression and paranoia”. Relationships fell apart as the women in his life – and even their family members – were “dragged into the chaos.” He says he later discovered that the source wasn’t disloyal friends but aggressive journalists and the private investigators they hired to eavesdrop on voicemails and track him to locations as remote as Argentina and an island off Mozambique.Mirror Group Newspapers said it didn’t hack Harry’s phone and its articles were based on legitimate reporting techniques. The publisher admitted and apologised for hiring a private eye to dig up dirt on one of Harry’s nights out at a bar, but the resulting 2004 article headlined “Sex on the beach with Harry” is not among the 33 in question at trial. Phone hacking that involved guessing or obtaining security codes to listen in on celebrities’ cell phone voice messages was widespread at British tabloids in the early years of this century.
Mirror Group has paid more than 100 million pounds (USD 125 million) to settle hundreds of unlawful information-gathering claims, and printed an apology to phone hacking victims in 2015. But it denies executives – including Piers Morgan, who was editor of the Daily Mirror editor between 1995 and 2004, knew about hacking. The opening statements being presented on Monday mark the second phase of a trial in which Harry and three others have accused the Mirror of phone hacking and unlawful information gathering.Two judges — including Justice Timothy Fancourt, who is overseeing the trial — are in the process of deciding whether Harry’s two other phone hacking cases will proceed to trial.
Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and Associated Newspapers Ltd., which owns the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.

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