Piers Morgan gives scathing response to Prince Harry’s phone hacking victory

Judge ruled Mr Morgan knew about and was involved in phone hacking when editor of Daily Mirror

Tara Cobham
Friday 15 December 2023 16:53 GMT
Former Mirror editor Piers Morgan responds to Prince Harry victory in privacy case

Piers Morgan has broken his silence over Prince Harry’s hacking win against the Mirror publisher.

The judge ruled at the High Court on Friday that Mr Morgan knew about and was involved in phone hacking when he was editor of the Daily Mirror as the Duke of Sussex won damages of £140,600 against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).

Mr Morgan said in a statement on Friday afternoon that he never hacked a phone and never told anyone to do so, before launching scathing attacks on Prince Harry, royal author Omid Scobie and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

The judge ruled that Mr Morgan knew about and was involved in phone hacking when he was editor of the Daily Mirror (PA)

Speaking to reporters outside his west London home, Mr Morgan said: “I want to reiterate, as I’ve consistently said for many years now – I’ve never hacked a phone or told anybody else to hack a phone. And nobody has produced any actual evidence to prove that I did.”

He insisted he had “zero knowledge” of the single article published in his time as editor of the Daily Mirror that may have involved illegal information gathering.

As he said he was not called as a witness nor asked to provide a statement by either side in the case, Mr Morgan said: “I wasn’t able to respond to the many false allegations that were spewed about me in court by old foes of mine with an axe to grind.”

He described those giving evidence in the case as “old foes of mine with an axe to grind”, singling out author Omid Scobie and journalist Alastair Campbell.

He said: “I know the judge appears to have believed the evidence of Omid Scobie, who lied about me in his new book and he lied about me in court, and the whole world now knows him to be a deluded fantasist. And he believed the evidence of Alastair Campbell, another proven liar who spun this country into an illegal war.”

Mr Morgan went on to criticise Harry, whom he has frequently hit out at since the duke and his wife Meghan Markle left the UK for a new life in the US.

He said: “Prince Harry’s outrage at media intrusion into the private lives of the royal family is only matched by how own ruthless greedy and hypocritical enthusiasm for doing it himself.

The Duke of Sussex has won damages of £140,600 against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) at the High Court on Friday (AFP via Getty Images)

“He talked today about the appalling behaviour of the press. But this is the guy who has repeatedly trashed his family in public for hundreds of millions of dollars even as two of its most senior and respected members were dying – his grandparents.

“It’s hard to imagine more appalling behaviour than that. As for him saying this is a good day for truth, the duke has been repeatedly exposed in recent years as someone who wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped him in his California-tanned face.

“He demands accountability for the press but refuses to accept any for himself for smearing the royal family, his own family, as a bunch of callous racists without producing a shred of proof to support those disgraceful claims.”

Mr Morgan concluded by accusing the duke of being on a mission to destroy the British monarchy. He said: “[Harry] also says he’s on a mission to reform the media when it’s become clear his real mission, along with his wife, is to destroy the British monarchy, and I will continue to do whatever I can to stop them.”

Earlier on Friday, Mr Justice Fancourt said he accepted the evidence of biographer Mr Scobie, who told the High Court that then-Daily Mirror editor Mr Morgan was told about a use of phone hacking involving voicemail interception.

During the trial earlier this year, the court was told that Mr Scobie did work experience at the Daily Mirror in spring 2002 and overheard Mr Morgan being told that information relating to Kylie Minogue and her then-boyfriend James Gooding had come from voicemails.

Barrister David Sherborne (centre) reads a statement, on behalf of the Duke of Sussex, outside the Rolls Buildings in central London (PA)

Speaking outside the court following the ruling, Harry’s lawyer David Sherborne said that editors such as Mr Morgan “clearly knew” about the hacking as the Duke of Sussex accused the Mirror publisher of “vendetta journalism” in a scathing attack.

Mr Justice Fancourt ruled there had been “extensive” phone hacking at MGN titles between 2006 and 2011, including during the Leveson Inquiry, and that the misuse of private investigators was “integral” to the three publications.

The judge found that 15 out of 33 articles focused on during the trial were the product of hacking from phones belonging to the Duke of Sussex, his girlfriends and his friends, or the product of unlawful information gathering.

He concluded that Harry’s phone was only hacked to a modest extent and this was carefully controlled by certain people at each newspaper – but that this did happen from the end of 2003 to April 2009.

The ruling that the Duke of Sussex was a victim of phone hacking is a major boost to his ongoing campaign against Britain’s tabloid media. The case against MGN is just one of several Prince Harry is involved in. He has also brought legal action against other newspaper publishers, a news and picture agency and the Home Office.

Mr Morgan has previously always denied any direct knowledge of phone hacking during his time as a tabloid newspaper editor.

The former editor of News of the World was forced to resign as presenter of Good Morning Britain in March 2021 after telling viewers that he “didn’t believe a word” of what the Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey in an interview about her time with the royal family. He has often criticised the couple on social media and in newspaper columns.

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