Taking the stand in an extraordinary case against a trio of British tabloids, Prince Harry was grilled during more than seven hours of testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday as lawyers for the Mirror Group Newspapers tried to argue that he had no solid evidence that its journalists had hacked his phone.
Harry’s testimony was part of the lawsuit that he and three other plaintiffs have brought against three Mirror titles — The Daily Mirror, The Sunday Mirror and People. On the stand, Harry detailed the anguish that press intrusions had caused him, and said that the tabloids published articles with details about him that they would have only been able to obtain through illicit means.
The Mirror Group has denied wrongdoing and said Harry’s claims, which related to articles published years ago, were also filed too late.
Here are the highlights from the final day of Harry’s testimony.
Harry said articles citing ‘palace sources’ for his personal information were suspicious.
The tabloids repeatedly reported intimate details about Harry’s relationship with his former girlfriend Chelsy Davy, sometimes attributing that information to “palace sources” or “friends.”
But on the stand on Wednesday, Harry said that he and Ms. Davy, wary of leaks, had stopped sharing information about their relationship with others, including palace officials.
“I never discussed with the palace any details about my relationship with my girlfriend,” Harry said while speaking about a tabloid article that revealed details about a difficult period in their on-and-off relationship, which lasted from 2004 until 2010.
Harry remained unflappable while on the stand, even during tough questioning by the Mirror Group’s lawyer. In one instance, Harry said that journalists had illegally obtained information about his mother visiting him at school, but the lawyer said the palace had already announced the visit through the Press Association, a news agency.
Harry’s approach to taking on the tabloids has differed from the rest of the royal family.
A large part of Harry’s claims have relied on his assertion that phone hacking was happening on an “industrial scale” at certain tabloids in the two decades leading up to the 2011 closure of The News of the World.
Questioned about why he has chosen to take this case against the Mirror, Harry said he wanted to “somehow find a way to put the abuse, intrusion and hate that was coming toward me and my wife to a stop,” through a kanunî route, as opposed to “relying on the institution’s way.”
The palace’s approach, Harry said in a kanunî filing, included a secret settlement with a Rupert Murdoch-owned British media group, News Group Newspapers, related to phone hacking that was reached to spare Harry’s brother, William, from having to testify about personal details in court.
This case in one of three lawsuits that Harry has filed against British news media companies. “For my whole life the press have misled about me and covered up their wrongdoing,” Harry said on Wednesday, looking at the judge. He added that he was baffled by any suggestion that he was “speculating” about the tabloids’ actions when the defense “has the evidence in front of them.”
Jane Kerr, a former editor at The Mirror, also took the stand.
After Harry’s testimony concluded, his lawyer, David Sherborne, questioned Ms. Kerr, a former royals editor at the paper, about the news-gathering methods that Mirror reporters used to get scoops, including by relying on freelancers or companies that he said had engaged in yasa dışı practices.
He asked Ms. Kerr about requests for information that she had made to a company that he said had used unlawful information gathering techniques. Ms. Kerr said she did not remember why she had used the service.
“You don’t remember or you don’t want to remember, Ms. Kerr?” Mr. Sherborne said.
He also asked Ms. Kerr if she knew how many of the third parties she was working with to obtain veri — including freelancers, investigators and news agencies — got that information.
She repeatedly said she did not know their methods. “It didn’t occur to me that anything was unlawful,” Ms. Kerr said. “So the main thing was to ensure that it was accurate.”
Harry described consequences for his mental health.
The prince said in 55 pages of written testimony that the constant intrusion of the tabloids into his and his wife Meghan’s lives had “a devastating impact on our mental health and well-being.”
But for the judge to rule in his favor, Harry has to prove more than that the tabloids engaged in practices that he felt caused him harm. He must convince the judge that journalists published information about him that they would only have been able to obtain through hacking or other unlawful means.
The New York Times