Prince Harry wins landmark phone hacking case against the Daily Mirror publisher

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Prince Harry leaving the Brompton Club in Knightsbridge at 3am, one hour after ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy left via the side door. Harry had a strange white 'stain' on his jacket.
Thursday November 1, 2011. Prince Harry leaving the Brompton Club in Knightsbridge at 3am, one hour after ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy left via the side door. Harry had a strange white 'stain' on his jacket. (Photograph: ©Optic Photos, Pacific Coast News)

On Friday (Dec. 15, 2023), a court ruled in favor of Prince Harry in his lawsuit against the publisher of the Daily Mirror and granted him a financial award of over 140,000 pounds (approximately $180,000).

The 39-year-old termed the decision as “validating and confirming.”

In London's High Court, Justice Timothy Fancourt determined that Mirror Group Newspapers were guilty of frequent and consistent phone hacking. He affirmed that private investigators were part of the process of obtaining privileged information about Prince Harry and those he was associated with illicitly. The judge concluded that key figures at the papers were aware of the practice and attempted to conceal it.

Fancourt determined that the U.K. media had infringed upon the father of two's privacy by illegally obtaining details for 15 out of the 33 stories investigated in court, which were taken from a total of nearly 150 articles listed by Harry.

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In a statement issued by his lawyer outside court, the younger son of King Charles III, Prince Harry, declared, “This is a wonderful day for truth and responsibility.”

I heard that it may be dangerous to take on dragons. But with the great success we have achieved today, and the necessity of a free and open media, it is a price worth paying. Our journey continues.

Just a few days ago, a U.K. judge decided that Harry must pay a hefty fee of around $60,000 for the legal battle he had with the publisher of the Daily Mail. The dispute was sparked by the paper's story which said Harry attempted to conceal his desire to keep his public security while stepping down from royalty.

The Prince is currently taking legal action against Mirror Group, one of three media outlets he claims illegally invaded his privacy in an effort to gain information about the Royal Family. Additionally, he is challenging the British government's decision to remove his security detail after his transition from working royal to private citizen.

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Fancourt gave the duke recompense for his anguish and an additional amount as aggravated damages to “reflect the particular harm and indignation” that two supervisors at Trinity Mirror were aware of the conduct but neglected to prevent it.

Fancourt noted that rather than stopping the illegal conduct, they chose to ignore it and actively hid it. Had the behavior been addressed, the misappropriation of the duke's information would have been halted sooner.

For his efforts to seek reparations from the U.K. press for what he believes is their mistreatment of him and his family, Harry asked for 440,000 pounds, or $560,000. This made him the first major member of the British royal family to appear in court in more than a hundred years.

Prince Albert Edward, the eldest son of Queen Victoria who eventually became King Edward VII in 1901, was an observer in a court case in 1891 that involved a wagering scandal.

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In the same month, Harry testified in court accusing Mirror Group Newspapers of hiring journalists who had been listening to his voicemails and of using private investigators who had used unethical and illegal means to find out information about him and his family.

Harry declared that the Mirror Group Newspapers had engaged in illicit practices to write around 150 reports about his private life over the span of 1996 to 2010, including his love life, his injuries and assumed drug use. He explained that the coverage had caused him a great amount of psychological anguish, but it was difficult to demonstrate this as the papers had disposed of the evidence.

Out of the 33 articles in question, Mirror refused to concede to having used illicit reporting techniques for 28 of them, leaving no admissions regarding the last five.

The judge noted that Harry was inclined to believe that whatever was printed had come from intercepted voicemails, which was inaccurate. He then made it clear that Mirror Group Newspapers were not responsible for “all of the unlawful activity” against the Duke.

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The Mirror Group expressed approval at the ruling which gave “the necessary understanding to advance from incidents that occurred many years ago.”

The company declared in a statement that they unreservedly apologize for any historical wrongdoings, assume total responsibility, and have offered suitable remuneration.

Mirror Group Newspapers acknowledged that they have given away more than 100 million pounds ($128 million) in payments for other phone hacking lawsuits, though they denied that they had acted improperly in Prince Harry's case. They maintained that they had only employed legitimate techniques to acquire information on the prince.

In January of this year, Harry wrote in his memoir Spare that the paparazzi were to blame for the fatal car crash that Princess Diana experienced in 1997. He also noted that the press's intrusions had a hand in him and Meghan Markle‘s decision to distance themselves from their senior royal roles.


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