Prince Harry tells court: UK government and media at ‘rock bottom’

Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex arrives at the Rolls Building of the High Court in London, Britain June 6, 2023. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) – Prince Harry gave evidence on Tuesday at the High Court in London in his lawsuit against the publisher of British tabloid the Daily Mirror, which he accuses of phone-hacking and other unlawful acts.

Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, has previously admitted its titles were involved in phone-hacking, but said there was no evidence that Harry had ever been a victim.

Below are quotes and highlights from the courtroom where Harry is due to face hours of cross-examination in the witness box on Tuesday and Wednesday:


“On a national level as, 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,” Harry said in a written witness statement.

“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.”


“In my experience as a member of the Royal Family, each of us gets cast into a specific role by the tabloid press,” Harry wrote in his written statement.

“It was a downward spiral, whereby the tabloids would constantly try and coax me, a ‘damaged’ young man, into doing something stupid that would make a good story and sell lots of newspapers. Looking back on it now, such behaviour on their part is utterly vile.”


Asked why Buckingham Palace had not complained to the press complaints watchdog about a story if it was untrue, he said: “That would mean, my lord, complaining pretty much every day.”


Asked whether he believed the voicemails of his father King Charles had been hacked over a story about him taking drugs, Harry said: “Potentially unlawful information gathering, yes.”

Andrew Green, MGN’s lawyer, said that the “unpleasant reality” is that Harry’s private information was “sometimes provided to the press with the consent of the palace or people within the palace”.

Harry replied: “From certain individuals, yes.”


Harry addressed the rumours that his real father was Major James Hewitt, with whom his mother had a relationship.

“They were hurtful, mean and cruel,” he said in the witness statement. “I was always left questioning the motives behind the stories. Were the newspapers keen to put doubt into the minds of the public so I might be ousted from the Royal Family?”


One story reported Harry had sworn about his mother’s former butler Paul Burrell. “That’s a terminology I used when describing Mr Burrell,” Harry said. “I… believe this could have been lifted directly from a voicemail I had left.”


Harry said in his witness statement: “It’s only now, realising what the defendant’s (MGN’s) journalists were doing, and how they were getting their information, that I can see how much of my life was wasted on this paranoia.

“I’ve always heard people refer to my mother as paranoid, but she wasn’t. She was fearful of what was actually happening to her and now I know that I was the same.”


Green suggested to Harry that his allegation that an article about him breaking his thumb as a teenager was the result of phone hacking or other unlawful information gathering was “in the realms of total speculation”.

Harry said “that kind of stuff instills a kind of paranoia for a young man at school where he has to go to the medical centre and can’t now trust the doctors”.


Harry was asked about a passage in his statement on the press, in which he said: “How much more blood will stain their typing fingers before someone can put a stop to this madness?”

Asked if the MGN journalists who wrote the articles at the centre of his lawsuit had “blood on their hands”, he replied: “Some of the editors and journalists that are responsible for causing a lot of pain, upset and in some cases – perhaps inadvertently – death.”


“At no point did I have a girlfriend or a relationship with anyone without the tabloids getting involved and ultimately trying to ruin it using whatever unlawful means at their disposal,” Harry wrote in his witness statement.


“The thought of Piers Morgan and his band of journalists earwigging into my mother’s private and sensitive messages (in the same way as they have me) and then having given her a ‘nightmare time’ three months prior to her death in Paris, makes me feel physically sick.”

Morgan, the Mirror’s former editor and now a high-profile broadcaster, has denied any involvement in unlawful behaviour.

(Reporting by Michael Holden, Sam Tobin and Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Kate Holton)

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