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Prince Harry phone hacking – live: Piers Morgan denies wrongdoing as judge rules Duke was Mirror victim

Duke of Sussex found to be victim of phone hacking by Mirror publisher and awarded £140,000 in damages

Holly Evans,Andy Gregory,Jane Dalton,Tara Cobham
Friday 15 December 2023 21:30 GMT
Former Mirror editor Piers Morgan responds to Prince Harry victory in privacy case

Piers Morgan has denied any wrongdoing as a High Court judge has ruled Prince Harry was the victim of phone hacking by the Mirror publisher.

Mr Justice Fancourt ruled 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).

But Mr Morgan insisted 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.

He told reporters outside his home in west London that the “real mission” of Harry and his wife Megan Markle is not to reform the media but “to destroy the British monarchy”.

It comes after the duke accused the Mirror publisher of “vendetta journalism” in a searing attack following the ruling.

Harry’s lawyer David Sherborne said that editors such as Mr Morgan “clearly knew” about the hacking, after the judge accepted evidence that the TalkTV host had been aware of voicemail interception.


Prince Harry calls on Metropolitan Police to investigate hacking

Prince Harry has urged the Metropolitan Police to “do their duty” and investigate the unlawful information gathering highlighted in his case.

“The acts listed in this judgement are prime examples of what happens when the power of the press is abused,” said the Duke of Sussex.

“I respectfully call upon the authorities, the financial regulator, the stock market who were deliberately deceived by Mirror group, and indeed the Metropolitan Police and prosecuting authorities, to do their duty for the British public and to investigate bringing charges against the company and those who have broken the law.

“Today’s ruling is vindicating and affirming. I’ve been told that slaying dragons will get you burned, but in light of today’s victory and the importance of doing what is needed for a free and honest press, it is a worthwhile price to pay. The mission continues.”

Andy Gregory15 December 2023 12:00

Judge ‘accepts’ Omid Scobie’s testimony that Piers Morgan knew about phone hacking

In a significant part of the judgment, Mr Justice Fancourt lists times when Piers Morgan was said to have been aware of phone hacking.

Referring to evidence given by royal author Omid Scobie, he said that he found the evidence of Morgan’s involvement to be credible and it had not been countered by the Mirror Group.

Scobie, who has been at the centre of recent controversy around the naming of the ‘racist’ royals, had recalled an incident when he was a student intern at the newspaper group, working on its “3am Girls” entertainment desk.

In 2002, he told the court he had witnessed Morgan, the then-editor of the Mirror, discuss an article about Kylie Minogue and that he had asked how confident the journalist was about the story. He had been informed by the journalist that the source had been a voicemail, Scobie claimed.

Mr Justice Fancourt said that recollection was supported by evidence of an invoice from a private investigator related to obtaining Minogue’s mobile phone number and that of her then partner, James Gooding.

Holly Evans, at the Royal Courts of Justice15 December 2023 11:49

Prince Harry’s lawyer celebrates ‘momentous win'

Speaking outside the Rolls Building, Prince Harry’s lawyer David Sherbourne said this was a “momentous win”.

He added: “Today is a great day for truth as well as accountability”.

The duke thanked his legal team for “dismantling the sworn testimony” of Mirror Group and said the case was not just about hacking, but about “systemic and appalling behaviour followed by cover ups”.

Board directors, legal team and editors such as Piers Morgan “clearly knew about” phone hacking, he said, adding that that “between them, they even went as far as to lie under oath at the Leveson Inquiry” into phone hacking.

Holly Evans, at the Royal Courts of Justice15 December 2023 11:40

Prince Harry to be compensated for ‘distress’ caused by MGN, judge rules

In addition to damages relating to 15 articles written about Prince Harry, the judge said he had awarded the Duke of Sussex a further sum to compensate for the distress he had suffered.

Mr Justice Fancourt said: “I have also awarded a further sum to compensate the Duke fully for the distress that he suffered as a result of the unlawful activity directed at him and those close to him.

“I recognise that Mirror Group was not responsible for all the unlawful activity that was directed at the Duke, and that a good deal of the oppressive behaviour of the Press towards the Duke over the years was not unlawful at all.

“Mirror Group therefore only played a small part in everything that the Duke suffered and the award of damages on this ground is therefore modest.”

Andy Gregory15 December 2023 11:17

Harry’s claims did not always ‘stand up to careful analysis’, rules judge

In 18 of the 33 articles examined at the trial, Prince Harry’s claims of unlawful information gathering “did not stand up to careful analysis”, the judge ruled.

Mr Justice Fancourt said: “There was a tendency for the Duke in his evidence to assume that everything published was the product of voicemail interception because phone hacking was rife within Mirror Group at the time.

“But phone hacking was not the only journalistic tool at the time, and his claims in relation to the other 18 articles did not stand up to careful analysis.

“There were also a number of separate invoices, unconnected to published articles, which I consider to be evidence of unlawful gathering of the Duke’s private information. I have accordingly awarded the Duke damages in respect of each of the articles and invoices where unlawful information gathering was proved.”

Andy Gregory15 December 2023 11:09

MGN ‘apologises reservedly’ after judge finds ‘extensive’ phone hacking

Mirror Group Newspapers has said it “apologises reservedly” in a statement after the ruling.

“We welcome today’s judgment that gives the business the necessary clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago,” the publisher said.

“Where historical wrongdoing took place, we apologise unreservedly, have taken full responsibility and paid appropriate compensation.”

Andy Gregory15 December 2023 11:03

Ex-Mirror boss ‘turned a blind eye’ to hacking

Mr Justice Fancourt also ruled that ex-Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey knew of hacking and “turned a blind eye”.

Holly Evans, at the Royal Courts of Justice15 December 2023 11:02

Breaking: Prince Harry wins partial victory in court battle with Mirror publisher over hacking claims

Prince Harry has won damages against Mirror Group Newspapers, as a High Court judge ruled that the publisher’s titles accessed his voicemails.

Mr Justice Fancourt found that 15 out of 33 articles focused on during the trial were the product of hacking from the Duke of Sussex’s mobile phone 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 duke was awarded £140,600 in damages.

My colleague Holly Evans has more in this breaking report:

Prince Harry wins partial victory in battle with Mirror publisher over hacking claims

Prince Harry has partially won his latest legal battle and has been awarded damages, as a High Court judge ruled that he was the victim of phone-hacking by Mirror newspapers.

Andy Gregory15 December 2023 10:59

Use of private investigators for unlawful information gathering was ‘integral’ part of MGN, judge rules

A High Court judge has ruled that the use of private investigators for unlawful information gathering was an “integral part of the system” that existed within the three newspapers at the time.

Of the 51 investigators used by the publisher and mentioned in court, Mr Justice Fancourt found that 11 were “very substantially” involved in unlawful information gathering for the journalists and editors.

Holly Evans, at the Royal Courts of Justice15 December 2023 10:46

Judge says there was ‘extensive’ phone hacking at MGN from 2006 to 2011

There was “extensive” phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers from 2006 to 2011, “even to some extent” during the Leveson Inquiry into media standards, Mr Justice Fancourt has ruled.

Andy Gregory15 December 2023 10:44

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