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Prince Harry was phone-hacking victim, London court rules

Key Points
  • Britain's Prince Harry was awarded significant damages after London's High Court ruled on Friday he had been the victim of phone-hacking and other unlawful acts by journalists on British newspapers with the knowledge of their editors.
  • The judge's decision to award him 140,600 pounds (around $180,700) and his conclusion that the papers' editors and executives knew about the wrongdoing will be seen a major victory for the prince.
  • Harry called for the authorities and the police to take action against those identified as having broken the law.
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, leaves the High Court in London, Britain March 27, 2023.
Henry Nicholls | Reuters

Britain's Prince Harry was awarded significant damages after London's High Court ruled on Friday he had been the victim of phone-hacking and other unlawful acts by journalists on British newspapers with the knowledge of their editors.

The prince became the first senior British royal for 130 years to give evidence in court when he appeared as the star witness at a trial in June against Mirror Group Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, who he said had targeted him for 15 years.

The judge's decision to award him 140,600 pounds (around $180,700) and his conclusion that the papers' editors and executives knew about the wrongdoing will be seen a major victory for the prince.

Harry called for the authorities and the police to take action against those identified as having broken the law.

"Today is a great day for truth as well as accountability," he said in a statement read by his lawyer David Sherborne.

The Duke of Sussex was one of about 100 claimants – including actors, sports stars, celebrities and people who simply had a connection to high-profile figures – who have taken legal action over allegations of phone-hacking and unlawful information-gathering between 1991 and 2011.

Harry and three others were chosen as test cases and the trial considered 33 articles of around 140 he alleged were the result of unlawful behaviour over 15 years from 1996.

"I found that 15 out of the 33 articles that were tried were the product of phone hacking of his mobile phone or the mobile phones of his associates, or the product of other unlawful information gathering," Judge Timothy Fancourt said.

"I consider that his phone was only hacked to a modest extent, and that this was probably carefully controlled by certain people at each newspaper."

The judge concluded there had been widespread hacking and unlawful activities from 1996 until 2011, even carrying on while a public inquiry into illicit practices at British newspapers was taking place.

However he said nearly all those on the board of the company, owned by Reach, had been kept in the dark.

"We welcome today's judgment that gives the business the necessary clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago," an MGN spokesperson said.

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

The judgment was damning on the involvement of senior editors and executives, saying they were fully aware of what was going on. Among those was high-profile broadcaster Piers Morgan, who has become a vocal critic of Harry and his U.S. wife Meghan. He has always denied any knowledge of phone-hacking.

"The court has found that Mirror Group's principal board directors, their legal department, senior executives, and editors such as Piers Morgan, clearly knew about or were involved in these illegal activities," Harry's statement said.

"Between them, they even went as far as lying under oath to parliament, during the Leveson Inquiry, to the Stock Exchange, and to us all ever since."