Prince Harry on mission ‘to the end’ after settlement
Prince Harry has accepted a substantial settlement in the phone hacking case against the Mirror Photo: AAP
Prince Harry says his mission to purge the press would continue “through to the end” after he accepted substantial damages to settle his case against Mirror Group Newspapers.
He also delivered another broadside against former editor Piers Morgan.
In December, the High Court in London ruled that Harry had been a victim of unlawful information gathering, including phone-hacking, by journalists on the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People tabloids with the knowledge of their editors.
Judge Timothy Fancourt ruled that about half the stories he examined were the result of unlawful acts and awarded the prince – the first British royal for 130 years to give evidence when he appeared as a witness last June – 140,600 pounds ($272,322) in damages.
That trial had only considered 33 of 148 articles put forward by Harry’s legal team, and on Friday his lawyer David Sherborne told a High Court hearing MGN had now agreed to pay further substantial damages and his legal costs, of at least 400,000 pounds ($774,744), to settle the outstanding claims.
In a statement, King Charles’ younger son said the settlement had vindicated his claims about the newspapers’ behaviour.
“Everything we said was happening at Mirror Group was in fact happening, and indeed far worse as the Court ruled in its extremely damning judgement,” he said in a statement read outside court by his lawyer.
Fancourt concluded in December there had been widespread hacking and unlawful activities at MGN from 1996 until 2011, and Harry is was one of about 100 claimants – including actors, and sports stars – who have sued MGN.
Sherborne said MGN was likely to pay more than two million pounds ($A3.9m) to cover the claimants’ legal costs for their generic case, and an interim payment of 400,000 pounds ($A774,744) towards the prince’s individual costs.
MGN, now owned by Reach, said it was pleased to have reached an agreement with Harry.
“Where historical wrongdoing took place, we apologise unreservedly, have taken full responsibility and paid compensation,” an MGN spokesperson said.
Since stepping down from royal duties in March 2020 and moving to California with his American wife Meghan, the prince has made it his mission to rid the British press of the senior executives and editors he accuses of abusing their power to spread lies and unlawfully intrude into people’s lives.
Prince Harry says as editor Piers Morgan would have known “perfectly well” about the phone hacking. (AP PHOTO)
The Mirror case is his biggest victory so far in that cause, and he has further, similar lawsuits pending against Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail, and News Corp’s British newspaper arm, News Group Newspapers.
“As I said back in December, our mission continues,” his statement said.
“It is the very reason why I started this, and why I will continue to see it through to the end.”
He again called for the authorities to take action and berated the high-profile broadcaster Piers Morgan, a former Daily Mirror editor, who Fancourt concluded was among the editors who had known about the “widespread” unlawful behaviour.
Morgan, now one of the most prominent and vocal critics of Harry and Meghan, gave a statement after the December judgement saying he had never hacked a phone nor told anybody else to do so. Harry’s mission was not to reform the press but to destroy the monarchy, Morgan said.
“In light of all this, we call again for the authorities to uphold the rule of law and to prove that no one is above it. That includes Mr Morgan, who as editor, knew perfectly well what was going on, as the judge held,” Harry’s statement said.
Harry was not in court for Friday’s hearing, having made a flying trip to Britain earlier this week to see his father after the king had been diagnosed with a form of cancer.