Prince Harry’s lawyers began their closing statements on Tuesday in a lawsuit against the British media company Mirror Group Newspapers, which he has accused of hacking his cellphone more than a decade ago.
The lawsuit is part of a yearslong feud between Harry and the British tabloids, and one of several cases he has brought against newspaper publishers. During this case, the prince gave evidence over two days, becoming the first prominent member of the royal family to testify in court in over 130 years.
This week, both David Sherborne, Prince Harry’s lawyer, and Andrew Green, a lawyer for the Mirror Group, will address the judge, Timothy Fancourt.
The case focuses on accusations that throughout the early 2000s, the company hacked Harry’s phone, as well as those of his brother, William, a girlfriend and some aides. Harry has brought the lawsuit alongside three other plaintiffs, and on Tuesday, his lawyer presented to the judge the evidence he submitted to support their argument.
What did Harry’s team argue?
In his remarks on Tuesday, Mr. Sherborne charged that unlawful news gathering by three national newspapers belonging to the Mirror Group, including The Daily Mirror, had been “widespread” and “habitual,” and that it started as early as 1991 and continued until at least 2011.
He also said that the Mirror Group’s legal department and the board of its parent company were aware as early as 1999 that journalists had used unlawful methods.
Mr. Sherborne argued that the Mirror Group had revealed what he said was the “weakness” of its case in choosing to call only three journalists to testify in the six-week trial.
Among the people connected to the case who did not testify was Piers Morgan, a British journalist who was the editor of The Daily Mirror at the time when Harry says it hacked his phone. Mr. Morgan has denied knowledge of any wrongdoing.
Mr. Sherborne said that the company used illegal methods to get tips, verify stories and expand stories by adding details.
Harry’s legal team has argued that the illegal reporting methods resulted in invasive articles that hurt Harry’s trust in his friends and put a strain on his relationship with his then-girlfriend, Chelsy Davy.
What did the Mirror Group argue?
On Tuesday morning, the court heard only from the plaintiffs’ lawyer, but in the past, the Mirror Group’s lead lawyer, Andrew Green, has said in court that there was no evidence Prince Harry was ever hacked. Mr. Green’s legal team has argued that suspicion of phone hacking is not proof, and that some of the articles in question were published before the prince had a cellphone.
He added that by 2009, employees of another tabloid, The News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch, had been sentenced to jail for phone hacking, making it unlikely that the Mirror Group’s journalists would run the risk of doing the same.
They also said Harry had waited too long to sue.
What were the key moments in the case?
During the lawsuit, Harry condemned the British tabloid press and its methods, asking, “How much more blood will stain their typing fingers before someone can put a stop to this madness?”
He added that the tabloids’ actions had affected every area of his life, spurring “bouts of depression and paranoia.”
Harry said the persona that the tabloids created, a portrayal of him as the “thicko,” the “cheat,” the “underage drinker” and the “irresponsible drug taker,” had come to overshadow his life. And he said that press intrusion had been “the main factor” in his breakup with Ms. Davy.
What happens next?
After Mr. Sherborne finishes presenting his closing submissions, Mr. Green will speak for the Mirror Group. The judge has given them 10 hours each.
The judge’s decision is expected to be handed down two to three months after the end of the hearing, said Ahlia Rateb, a clerk to the judge.