Prince Harry wins phone hacking lawsuit against British tabloid publisher, awarded 140,000 pounds

Prince Harry has won his phone hacking lawsuit against the publisher of the Daily Mirror and was awarded over 140,000 pounds ($180,000) in the first of his several lawsuits against the tabloids to go to trial

December 15, 2023 05:39 pm | Updated 07:04 pm IST - LONDON

 Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.

Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Prince Harry won his phone hacking lawsuit on Friday against the publisher of the Daily Mirrorand was awarded over 140,000 pounds ($180,000) in the first of his several lawsuits against British tabloids to go to trial.

Justice Timothy Fancourt in the High Court found phone hacking was “widespread and habitual” at Mirror Group Newspapers over many years and private investigators “were an integral part of the system” to gather information unlawfully. He said executives at the papers were aware of the practice and covered it up.

Justice Fancourt said he awarded the Duke of Sussex damages for 15 of the 33 newspaper articles in question at trial that were the result of unlawful information gathering and resulted in the misuse of the Harry's private information.

The judge also added damages for the distress the duke suffered and a further sum for aggravated damages to “reflect the particular hurt and sense of outrage” over the fact that two directors at Trinity Mirror knew about the activity and didn't stop it.

“Instead of doing so, they turned a blind eye to what was going on and positively concealed it,” Justice Fancourt said. “Had the illegal conduct been stopped, the misuse of the duke’s private information would have ended much sooner.”

Harry, the estranged younger son of King Charles III, had sought 440,000 pounds ($560,000) as part of a crusade against the British media that bucked his family's longstanding aversion to litigation and made him the first senior member of the royal family to testify in court in over a century.

His appearance in the witness box over two days in June created a spectacle as he lobbed allegations that Mirror Group Newspapers had employed journalists who eavesdropped on voicemails and hired private investigators to use deception and unlawful means to learn about him and other family members.

“I believe that phone hacking was at an industrial scale across at least three of the papers at the time,” Harry asserted in the High Court. “That is beyond any doubt.”

The judge said that Harry had a tendency in his testimony “to assume that everything published was the product of voicemail interception,” which was not the case. He said the Mirror Group was “not responsible for all of the unlawful activity directed at the duke.”

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