Prince Harry enters witness box for UK court showdown, accuses tabloid of playing ‘a destructive role’
Prince Harry made an appearance at a U.K. courtroom on Tuesday, when he swore to tell the truth in testimony against a tabloid publisher he accused of phone hacking.
The Duke of Sussex arrived at London’s High Court in a black SUV, passing by dozens of photographers and TV cameras. Inside, he held a Bible in one hand as he was sworn in. The 38-year-old is suing the publisher of the Daily Mirror.
The youngest son of King Charles III claimed the outlet used unlawful techniques on an “industrial scale” to get scoops on the British royal family. The father of two will face cross-examination by a lawyer for the defendant, Mirror Group Newspapers, which is contesting the claims.
The prince wore a dark suit and tie as he sat in the witness box. He told Mirror Group attorney Andrew Green that he had “experienced hostility from the press since I was born.” Harry also accused the tabloids of playing “a destructive role in my growing up.”
Harry is the first senior British royal since the 19th century to face questioning in court. His ancestor Prince Albert Edward, Queen Victoria’s eldest son who went on to become King Edward VII in 1901, appeared as a witness in a trial over a gambling scandal in 1891.
Harry has made it his life’s work to hold the U.K. press accountable for what he sees as its hounding of him and his family.
Setting out the prince’s case in court on Monday, his lawyer David Sherborne said that from Harry’s childhood, British newspapers used hacking and subterfuge to mine snippets of information that could be turned into front-page scoops.
According to Sherborne, stories about Harry were big sellers for the newspapers, and some 2,500 articles covered facets of his life during the time period of the case – from 1996 to 2011. The stories covered injuries at school, experimentation with marijuana and cocaine, as well as relationships with girlfriends.
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“Nothing was sacrosanct or out of bounds,” said Sherborne.
In a written witness statement published Tuesday, Harry said he felt “as though the tabloid press thought that they owned me absolutely.”
“I genuinely feel that in every relationship that I’ve ever had – be that with friends, girlfriends, with family or with the army, there’s always been a third party involved, namely the tabloid press,” he said.
The Mirror Group has paid more than 100 million pounds ($125 million) to settle hundreds of unlawful information-gathering claims. It also printed an apology to phone hacking victims in 2015. However, the newspaper denies or has not admitted any of Harry’s claims, which relate to 33 published articles.
Green said there was “simply no evidence capable of supporting the finding that the Duke of Sussex was hacked, let alone on a habitual basis.”
Green noted that he plans to question Harry for a day and a half.
Harry was expected in court on Monday for the opening of the hacking case. It is the first of his several lawsuits against the media to go to a full trial. However, Sherborne said the prince was absent because he had taken a flight on Sunday from Los Angeles after celebrating the birthday of his 2-year-old daughter, Princess Lilibet.
“I’m a little surprised,” said Judge Timothy Fancourt concerning Harry’s absence, noting he directed the prince to be prepared to testify.
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Harry has detailed his fury against the U.K. press in his memoir “Spare,” which was published in January of this year. He has also spoken out in several televised interviews.
He has long blamed the paparazzi for causing the car crash that killed his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. The 36-year-old died from injuries she sustained in Paris while being chased by photographers. He also harassment and intrusion from the U.K. press, as well as alleged racist articles, prompted him and his wife, Meghan Markle, to leave the country.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped back as senior royals in 2020. They now reside in California with their two young children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News