London: Prince Harry on Friday settled a long-running legal claim against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), nearly two months after a UK judge ruled he had been a victim of phone hacking by its tabloid titles.
The Duke of Sussex sued MGN - which publishes The Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People - alleging its journalists were linked to deceptive and unlawful methods, including phone hacking.
The high court judge ruled in the duke’s favour in December, after finding evidence of such practices relating to 15 of the 33 sample articles that Harry had submitted in the case.
Judge Timothy Fancourt said Harry’s personal phone had been targeted between 2003 and 2009 and that the 15 articles were “the product of phone hacking... or the product of other unlawful information gathering”.
He concluded that phone hacking had been “widespread and habitual” at MGN titles in the late 1990s but that the duke’s phone had only been tapped to a “modest extent”. The judge awarded him 140,600 pounds ($177,300) in damages.
Harry’s legal claim had included a further 115 articles, and they might have become the subject of a further trial.
Following a High Court hearing Friday morning, his lawyer David Sherborne confirmed a settlement had been reached between the duke and MGN to end the outstanding parts of his claim.
‘A substantial sum’
It will pay him “a substantial additional sum by way of damages and all the costs of his claim,” he said.
Sherborne added that this included an interim payment towards the costs of 400,000 pounds.
Harry, the younger son of King Charles III, became the first British royal in over a century to take to the witness stand when he gave evidence in the trial.
He brought the case alongside similar claims by two actors and the ex-wife of a comedian, with two of those cases being dismissed because they were made too late.
An MGN spokesperson said: “We are pleased to have reached this agreement, which gives our business further clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago and for which we have apologised.”
‘Mission to continue’
Prince Harry said on Friday 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.
“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 judgment 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.