Prince Harry ‘horrified’ by alleged media intrusion as Prince William dragged into High Court legal war
Prince Harry has drawn his brother Prince William into his legal war with the media and says he was “horrified” to discover they had been illegally targeted by private investigators for the Mail on Sunday.
The Duke of Sussex is suing Associated Newspapers Limited alongside celebrities including Sir Elton John, Liz Hurley, and Sadie Frost, as well as Baroness Doreen Lawrence, accusing the media group of unlawful newsgathering dating as far back as 1993.
The media group – which publises the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday – denies any unlawful activity, calling the allegations against it “preposterous smears”.
But Harry, who is at the High Court for the first stage of the legal battle, insists journalists, editorial executives, and private investigators are responsible for phone hacking, blagging private information, bugging calls, and even a burglary to obtain confidential material.
In court documents released for the first time on Monday, the Duke claims his brother William was among the targets for a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who worked for both Mail newspapers in 2005 and 2006.
In his statement of claim, Harry says Mulcaire – through former News of the World executive Greg Miskiw – provided “unlawfully or illegally obtained information” and offered a “menu of illegal services” to an employee of the Mail on Sunday.
“Mr Mulcaire and Mr Miskiw targeted a number of individuals who they knew were of considerable interest and value to the Mail on Sunday, routinely monitoring and carrying out unlawful acts in relation to them for potential stories.
“This included Hugh Grant, Jude Law, HRH Prince William, Sir Simon Hughes MP and Elizabeth Hurley.”
Harry also highlights the alleged activities of another private investigator, Gavin Burrows, claiming he was commissioned by the Mail on Sunday between 2000 and 2007 and was “asked to target a number of high-profile individuals such as Hugh Grant, Carole Middleton (for private information about Prince William and her daughter, Kate), Elizabeth Hurley, Ken Livingstone (whilst Mayor of London) Peter Mandelson (the Labour peer and former Secretary of State), Brian Paddick (former Deputy Assistant MPS Commissioner) and Simon Bates (the former BBC Radio 1 DJ).”
Harry says he was “shocked and appalled” to learn of unlawful activities at ANL, adding that he is “concerned and upset by the fact that despite its stated values of representing the interests of British people, characterising itself as a beacon of truth and integrity, in fact it was committing these insidious and illegal Acts, and even lying and continuing to cover up the same so that they would not be publicly exposed.”
The Duke says he lost friends as a result of media intrusion, suffered from “suspicion and paranoia” as he struggled to understand where leaks had come from, and he added the Mail’s alleged activities are a “major betrayal given promises made by the media to improve its conduct following the tragic and untimely death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997.”
Harry says he “was largely deprived of important aspects of his teenage years”.
In her statement, Baroness Lawrence, who attended the hearing, says she “feels anger, shock and upset” at allegedly being targeted by the Daily Mail, a publication which campaigned strongly for justice for her murdered son Stephen.
“She finds it hard to believe the level of duplicity and manipulation that was clearly at play, knowing now as she does that the Daily Mail’s outward support for her fight to bring Stephen’s killers to justice was hollow, and worse, entirely false.
“(She) now sees that the Daily Mail’s true interests were about self-promotion and using her and her son’s murder as a means to generate ‘exclusive’ headlines, sell newspapers, and to profit.”
She added that she “cannot think of any act or conduct lower than stealing and exploiting information from a mother who buried her son for this reason.
“She feels used and violated, and like she has been taken for a fool.”
Baroness Lawrence claims she will never know the true extent of the alleged unlawful activity, and has been left wondering “whether trusting the Daily Mail as she did caused her to have delayed or have failed her murdered son.
“She asks herself whether more individuals could have been arrested, whether earlier investigations might have been more successful, and whether she could have got justice.”
Sir Elton and his husband David Furnish – another of the claimants – are in court to hear the first day of a four-day hearing in front of Mr Justice Nicklin.
ANL is seeking for material to be struck out of the legal battle as it was allegedly obtained through the Leveson Inquiry.
The newspaper publisher – which denies all wrongdoing – insists that material was handed over to assist the inquiry, and is subject to strict restrictions on how it can be otherwise used. It is also arguing that the legal claims have been brought too late, after time limits for civil claims have expired.
In their statements, the claimants have accused Daily Mail executives of not telling the truth to the Leveson inquiry into press standard when denying illegal activities at the publications.
In his statement, Harry says he and his friends and associates were targeted with phone hacking, ‘blagged’ medical records, and phone tapping.
He says his friend, Guy Pelly, had a “hardwire tap” placed on to his phone, and his former girlfriend Chelsy Davy was also among the targets during their relationship.
“The Unlawful Acts were carried out on Associated’s behalf by a large number of different private investigators, many of whom are now well-known for carrying out the same unlawful activities for other newspaper groups such as News Group Newspapers and Mirror Group Newspapers”, the legal documents continue.
Mail on Sunday executives are also accused in the claimants’ case of commissioning a break-in at a businessman’s private premises in the early 1990s “in order to obtain documents relating to his defence to SFO proceedings”.
According to court documents, Sir Elton says his medical information was unlawfully obtained and he claims the Mail on Sunday got hold of details of a party being planned by Prince Harry and Prince William to follow a memorial concert for Princess Diana.
Harry has identified stories involving his relationship with Ms Davy, as well as his and Prince William’s statement over images of their dying mother.
Former Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes is also part of the legal claim.
The hearing in front of Mr Justice Nicklin continues.