UNITED KINGDOM : On Wednesday, Prince Harry was back on the witness stand at the High Court in London for a second day of cross-examination about his claims that British newspapers illegally hacked into his phones and engaged in other behaviour to harm him.
The prince, the first senior British royal to give evidence in court in 130 years, stated on Tuesday that he believed the British media and its government had reached “rock bottom” and that the press had wrecked his relationships.
On Wednesday, the prince was more aggressive in sometimes heated exchanges with Andrew Green, the attorney for Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday People, and Sunday Mirror, which he and 100 other people are suing over claims of widespread illegal information-gathering between 1991 and 2011.
Harry, who is fifth in line to the throne, seemed emotional at the end of his evidence when he was questioned by his attorney, David Sherborne, about how it felt to answer inquiries about his accusations in court when “the world’s media are watching.”
Harry took a long breath and said, “It’s a lot.”
Attorneys for Harry and other claimants contend that senior editors and executives at MGN were aware of and approved of phone hacking and hiring private investigators to gather information dishonestly.
Green compared this with a 2005 police inquiry that resulted in the conviction of the former royal editor at Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World newspaper and claimed there was no mobile phone evidence to suggest that Harry had been the victim of phone hacking.
“If the court were to find that you were never hacked by any MGN journalist, would you be relieved or would you be disappointed?” Green questioned the prince.
In response, Harry said, “That would be speculating… I believe phone hacking was on an industrial scale across at least three papers at the time, and that is beyond doubt.”
“To have a decision against me and any other people that come behind me with their claims, given that Mirror Group has accepted hacking, … yes, I would feel some injustice,” he stated.
Harry responded, “Nobody wants to have their phone hacked,” in response to Green’s claim that he wanted to have been a victim.
The last time a British royal appeared in court was in 1891, when Harry’s great-great-great grandfather, the future Edward VII, testified in a defamation case involving a card game.
MGN, which is now owned by Reach (RCH.L), has acknowledged that several of its titles were involved in phone hacking, which is the unlawful interception of mobile voicemails. Green, however, claimed that there was no proof that Harry had ever been a victim.
He stated that some of the private data had come from senior Buckingham Palace staffers or had been provided with their permission.
In reference to one piece about him not being permitted to rejoin the fight in Afghanistan, Harry stated: “It is suspicious that so much is attributed to a royal source.”
In his 50-page written witness statement and during interrogation, Harry has stated that the press has had blood on its hands, devastated his childhood, ruined his relationships with friends and girlfriends, and sows distrust and paranoia since 1996, when he was a schoolboy.
He also violated royal decorum by declaring that he thought both the British government and the media had reached “rock bottom,” and it was obvious that he was angry about claims that his mother, Princess Diana, had been the subject of phone hacking prior to her passing in 1997.
Green, who has referred to some of the prince’s claims as “total speculation,” interrogated him in depth regarding 33 newspaper pieces, many of which were about the prince’s connection with his ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy and whose details Harry claims were illegally obtained.
Green stated that these details had already been widely reported elsewhere, but Harry stated that private information regarding their breakup and arguments about him visiting a strip club had been obtained via phone hacking.
Harry said, “This process is as distressing for me as it is for her.”
As he wrapped up about seven and a half hours of inquiry, Green questioned him about the prince’s claim that his phone had been consistently hacked every day for fifteen years.
“It could’ve been happening on a daily basis; I simply don’t know,” he stated. When asked if there was any proof he had been hacked, Harry responded, “That’s part of the reason I’m here.”