Prince Harry is set to appear at the High Court as he seeks to prove that Mirror Group Newspapers published articles about him using illegally obtained information spanning over two decades. The Duke of Sussex was not present in court when his case against the newspaper group opened, but his lawyer, David Sherborne, shared some of the articles that will form part of the case. Sherborne stated that the 33 articles in question are only a fraction of the 2,500 Harry identified as being published about him during that time.
Sherborne told the court that unlawful information gathering against the Duke began in January 1996 when he was 11 years old. The Daily Mirror reported that Princess Diana “looked sad and upset” as she made a “brief 12th birthday visit to Prince Harry” at his school. Although the story was not exclusive to the Mirror, the details, including Diana spending just 20 minutes with him, were unique to the paper’s story. Sherborne argued there were “telltale signs” of unlawful information gathering, but Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) denied such practices took place.
The lawyer also mentioned a January 2002 article implying that the Duke had taken drugs. Sherborne said the journalist whose byline appeared on the article was working under an editor who had Harry’s phone number in his palm pilot device. MGN denies unlawful information-gathering practices took place.
The High Court was informed about articles concerning Prince Harry while he was in Australia in 2003. Sherborne said that Frank Thorne, a “freelancer-come-private investigator”, was “digging into the prince’s movements” during his trip. MGN claims the information in the article came from an Australian freelance photographer and was first published in the Evening Standard the previous day.
A November 2004 story revealed Prince Harry’s relationship with Chelsy Davy, whom he first met while she was a boarder at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. Mirror journalist Anthony Harwood was questioned in court about when he was assigned to find out the identity of a “mystery blonde” seen with Harry in Argentina. Sherborne asked Harwood whether he was aware that the freelancer tasked with making inquiries was “very well-known for blagging flight details”. Harwood said he was not, and later added that the freelancer did “nothing of the sort” on the Davy story. MGN argues the information related to Davy’s identity came from a prior report in the Mail On Sunday, two confidential sources, and a South African photographer.
Sherborne told the court that Prince Harry was “little more than a child” at the time of his relationship with Davy and that they felt they were never on their own. This ultimately led to Davy deciding to break things off as she felt “royal life was not for her”, Sherborne said. He added this was “incredibly upsetting” for the prince at the time. The Daily Mirror ran a front-page story about Davy reportedly breaking things off with him in January 2005. MGN says the information came from a confidential source and was not illegally obtained.
In November 2007, the Daily Mirror ran a story saying Prince Harry “put on a brave face” as he marched with his military regiment after Davy reportedly “asked for a trial separation in an emotional phone call last week”. In a witness statement read out in court, Sherborne detailed how Harry felt press intrusion into his relationship with Davy “caused his circle of friends to become smaller and smaller” and relationships were lost “entirely unnecessarily”. Harry was “suffering bouts of depression as a result”, the lawyer said. MGN has said the military march was covered by news agencies, while the “trial separation” line had been reported by the News of the World, the Mail on Sunday, and Reuters.
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