What to know as Prince Harry prepares for a court fight with a British tabloid publisher

LONDON (AP) — Prince Harry is going where no other British royal has gone in over a century: to a courtroom witness.

The Duke of Sussex is set to testify in the first of his five pending legal cases that center largely around battles with the British tabloids. Opening statements are scheduled for Monday in his case.

Harry said in court documents that the royal family has consistently avoided the courts To prevent testimony about potentially embarrassing matters.

However, his frustration and anger with the press led him to break with tradition by suing the newspaper’s owners – allegedly against the wishes of his father, now King Charles III.

If Harry testifies as scheduled on Tuesday in his lawsuit against the Daily Mirror publisher, he will be the first member of the royal family to do so since the late 19th century, when Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Prince Albert Edward, testified twice in court.

The man who would become King Edward VII testified in the divorce proceedings of a woman he was accused of having an affair with (he denied this) and in a libel case involving a man who cheated at cards. Edward VII is the great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II, Harry’s grandmother.

A look at Prince Harry’s legal battles:

Harry’s history with phone hacking and paparazzi

The Daily Mirror case is one of three cases brought by Harry for alleged phone hacking and other breaches of his privacy, dating back to when he was a boy.

In court documents, he described his relationship with the press as “turbulent” in court documents, but it runs much deeper than that. The prince blames the paparazzi for the car accident that took the life of his late mother, Princess Diana.

He also cited harassment and snooping by the British press and “vicious and persistent attacks” on his wife Meghan, including racist articles, as the reason the couple left royal life and fled to the US in 2020. It’s one thing to reform the media. missions of his life.

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News that British journalists had hacked into their phones for scoops first surfaced in 2006 with the arrest of a private investigator and correspondent from the royal family for the now-defunct News of the World. The two were imprisoned, and the reporter apologized for hacking the phones used by Harry’s aides, his older brother Prince William, and their father.

A full-blown hacking scandal erupted five years later when it was revealed that a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch had eavesdropped on voicemails on a murdered girl’s phone, forcing the newspaper to close and launch a public investigation.

Since that time, other newspapers have been accused of illegal snooping that extended to wiretaps, home taps, and using deception to obtain phone records, bank, and medical records.

Who is Harry’s suit?

The Duke is facing three of Britain’s most popular tabloid publishers.

In addition to Mirror Group newspapers, it is suing Murdoch News Group newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and Associated Newspapers Ltd, which owns the Daily Mail and Sunday Mail.

The allegations are similar: Journalists and the people who hired them listened to phone messages and committed other illegal acts to intrude on Harry and invade his privacy.

In a sign of how important the issues are to him, Harry attends several days of hearings March in the case against the publisher of the Post.

Numerous celebrities with similar allegations have also filed lawsuits heard alongside Harry, including Hugh Grant in the Newsgroup case.Elton John and Elizabeth Hurley at Associated Newspapers issue.

The Associated Press “vehemently denies” the allegations. News Group has apologized for the News of the World hack, but The Sun does not accept responsibility or acknowledge any of the allegations, according to spokespeople.

The publishers argued during Supreme Court hearings this spring that the lawsuits should be quashed because Harry and the others had failed to file them within six years..

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The lawyer representing Harry and the other plaintiffs said they should be granted an exception because the publishers lied and hid evidence that prevented them from learning about the secret business in time to meet deadlines.

What is the current beta version?

At the outset of the proceedings, the Mirror Group seemed to have fallen on its sword, acknowledging instances in which its newspapers had illegally collected information. It apologized in court papers and said Harry and two of the three other claimants in the case were owed damages.

But the confession involving Harry — employing a private eye to search for unidentified dirt for an article about a nightclub — was not among nearly 150 articles between 1995 and 2011 in which the Mirror group’s reporters allegedly used phone hacking and other illegal methods to gather material. The trial focuses on 33 of those stories.

Harry’s solicitor, David Sherborne, said the illegal actions by reporters and editors for the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People were “widespread and habitual” and carried out on an “industrial scale”. He pointed the finger at management, particularly TV personality Piers Morgan, former Daily Mirror editor.

Morgan has publicly denied involvement in the phone hacking, as has Mirror Group in its court filings. A large percentage of the articles in question involved an “astonishing level of banality” and that, with the exception of a few instances of illegal information-gathering, the company’s reporters used public records and sources to obtain information legally, Andrew Green, the visual attorney, said.

The trial is a test case involving four claimants, including two members of Britain’s longest running soap opera, ‘Coronation Street’. But the ruling could decide the outcome of hacking allegations brought against Mirror Group from the estate of late singer George Michael, former Girls Aloud member Cheryl and former footballer Ian Wright.

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The case is divided into two parts: a public case that lasted nearly three weeks in which Harry’s lawyer presented evidence of allegations of newspaper fraud. Part Two, starting on Monday, with the four claimants testifying about specific actions targeting them.

What are the other related issues?

Harry’s fear and loathing of the press intersect with two active cases that center around the government’s decision to stop protecting him after he abandons his royal duties.

Harry has argued his security has been compromised when he visits the UK, saying he was stalked by aggressive paparazzi after a charity event in 2021. He sued the British government for withdrawing his security details.

With that lawsuit pending, he tried to appeal, to no avail The government’s subsequent refusal of his offer to pay for his own police protection.

A judge is considering whether Harry’s defamation lawsuit is against the Associated Newspapers To report that he attempted to conceal his legal efforts to get the British government to provide security should stand trial.

“How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal battle with the government over police vigilantes a secret … Then – just minutes after the story broke – his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute,” the Mail on Sunday headline wrote. .

In previous cases, Meghan won the invasion of privacy case in 2021 against The Mail on Sunday for printing a private letter she wrote to her father. That resulted in one pound Settlement for violation of her privacy and an undisclosed amount for copyright infringement.

The couple also settled lawsuits against photo agencies to fly a drone over their home in California and a helicopter over a home they lived in in England.

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