Prince Harry partially wins newspaper phone hacking claim

Prince Harry won a partial victory in his latest court case against British newspapers after a judge ruled on Friday that there had been “extensive” phone hacking by the Mirror Group.

The High Court in London said that Harry’s personal cellphone may have been hacked “to some extent” and the judge, Judge Timothy Fancourt, ruled that 15 of the 33 messages submitted by Harry as part of the inquiry were the result of his access. Mobile Voicemail.

Fancourt said phone hacking had been “widespread and habitual” at the Mirror Group for years, with senior managers aware of the practice and covering it up.

The partial win means the Duke of Sussex, who is no longer a working royal after moving to California with his wife Meghan, will be paid 140,600 pounds ($180,000).

Harry was not in court for the sentencing, but his lead lawyer, David Sherborne, said in a prepared statement read outside court that the case “showed a systematic pattern of unlawful and appalling behavior followed by a cover-up and destruction of evidence”. , the staggering scale of which can only be expressed through these measures.”

He called for criminal charges to be brought against the publisher and said it was time for police and prosecutors to “do their duty” and start an investigation.

In a statement, the Mirror Group of newspapers apologized.

“We welcome today’s ruling, which provides the necessary clarity for business to move forward from events that took place several years ago,” the company said.

“Where a historical mistake has been made, we apologize unconditionally and accept full responsibility and have made appropriate compensation.”

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Harry’s report said the verdict proved that senior editors and company executives, including Piers Morgan, all knew about the hacking and had been lying about it ever since.

“The court found that the principal board directors of the Mirror Group, their legal department, senior executives and editors such as Piers Morgan were clearly aware of or involved in these illegal activities,” he said.

“Between them, they went as far as swearing in Parliament, during the Leveson inquiry, on the stock market and on us.”

The judgment said: “The editors of every newspaper shall have VMI. [voicemail interception] Widely and habitually used, they were happy to reap its benefits.”

Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004, has always denied knowledge of or involvement in illegal phone hacking and has yet to comment on Friday’s ruling. Morgan is often an outspoken critic of Harry and Meghan in her regular columns, accusing them of narcissism and hypocrisy in their criticism of the media.

In 2002, while working as an intern on the show business desks at the Daily Mirror and The People, Omit Scobie testified that he was given a list of cell phone numbers and a detailed verbal explanation of how to get through. Voicemails from their owners.

He told the court that Morgan personally came to ask about a story involving singer Kylie Minogue and how confident the team was about it. Friday’s ruling said Morgan “said the information came from voicemails.” The judge added that he found Scobie to be a “straightforward and credible witness”.

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Scobie has found himself at the center of recent controversy after a Dutch translation of his latest book inadvertently named two people who allegedly discussed the skin color of Harry’s son, Prince Archie.

The hacking case was brought jointly by four British celebrities or their families, who each say they were victims of phone hacking. Claims by both the British comedian’s ex-wife and the British soap opera star were dismissed as time ran out.

Harry testified in the case in June, the first high-ranking official to testify in court for 130 years.

This was the first of many lawsuits brought by Harry against British tabloid newspapers. Two ongoing cases against the publisher of the Daily Mail and the publisher of The Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch, have yet to go to trial. Harry’s statement on Friday concluded by saying “work continues”.

Harry has spoken out about how the British press is responsible for the death of his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being chased by paparazzi.

However, not all of Harry’s legal challenges have ended in success. He was ordered on Monday to pay nearly 50,000 pounds (more than $60,000) in legal fees after an unsuccessful defamation case against the publisher of the Daily Mail.

The Mirror Group owns three national newspapers: the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People, all of which are so-called “red-top” tabloid titles, which lean politically to the left and the opposition Labor Party, but which traditionally cover celebrity and show business news. With the same enthusiasm as their more conservative-leaning rivals.

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So-called phone hacking, also called “blogging” in the British press, is when a reporter or private investigator illegally listens to someone’s cell phone voicemails using a simple security flaw: voicemails can be accessed remotely by anyone who knows a person’s cell phone number. and their security code.

Because people often neglect to change this code from the factory-standard number in the industry, third parties can listen to any messages left in the inbox.

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