U.K. reputation at 'rock bottom' because of media, govt.: Prince Harry

Prince Harry, now self-exiled in the U.S., waded into a longstanding debate about government links to news organisations, as part of his case against Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd.

June 06, 2023 11:38 pm | Updated 11:38 pm IST - London

Prince Harry .

Prince Harry . | Photo Credit: AP

Prince Harry on June 6 hit out at close ties between the U.K. media and government as he sued a tabloid newspaper group for illegal reporting methods, accusing both of damaging the country.

British royals have largely followed the same practice as the monarch, who as head of state of a constitutional monarchy is supposed to be above politics.

As such, they have steered clear of publicly commenting about the government of the day.

But Prince Harry — now self-exiled in the U.S. — waded into a longstanding debate about government links to news organisations, as part of his case against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) Ltd.

The Duke of Sussex, as he is formally known, maintained in his witness statement to London's High Court that he was not bringing the case out of a vendetta against the tabloids.

Instead, he said, he wanted to "properly hold the people who have hijacked" the "privileges and powers of the press and have used illegal or unlawful means for their own gain and agendas".

Prince Harry, 38, said those responsible had "showed no willingness to change" and needed to be exposed, to prevent others suffering the same fate as he had.

"On a national level, at the moment, our country is judged globally by the state of our press and our government, both of which I believe are at rock bottom," he said.

"Democracy fails when your press fails to scrutinise and hold the government accountable, and instead choose to get into bed with them so they can ensure the status quo."

U.K. national newspapers are predominantly right-leaning towards the ruling Conservatives of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Critics have said that has skewed coverage of many political issues, including the divisive Brexit debate about the U.K.'s departure from the European Union.

Mr. Sunak's official spokesman refused to comment on Prince Harry's criticism, which also alleged that the police and government were "scared" to hold the press accountable.

"I think you have heard repeatedly from the prime minister on the state of the country and his priorities but I am not going to get drawn into commenting specifically on that," he told reporters.

Calls for statutory regulation of the press has been an issue since a prosecution of several journalists at the now defunct News of the World tabloid over phone-hacking, and a long-running public inquiry.

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