Prince Harry has accused the tabloid press of inciting hatred and harassment in his private life, claiming that it led him to “play up to the headlines” when he was portrayed as a “playboy prince” and a “thicko” during his younger years. Details of these accusations have emerged in Harry’s witness statement as he begins giving evidence in court against the publisher of the Mirror newspaper.
The Duke of Sussex believes that every relationship he has had, including those with friends, girlfriends, family, and the army, has been affected by the involvement of the tabloid press. He is pursuing this claim in order to hold people accountable for their actions and prevent them from hiding behind their institution or organisation.
Harry, 38 years old, is suing the publisher, alleging that reporters for the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, and Sunday People titles were involved in phone hacking, “blagging” or obtaining information through deception, and using private investigators between 1996 and 2010. MGN, the publisher, is contesting the claims and argues that some of the claimants have brought their legal action too late.
In his statement, Harry discusses the impact of press intrusion on his relationships, including those before he married Meghan Markle. He claims that at least one of his girlfriends was warned off by her parents due to the potential aggravation caused by the press. Harry also mentions his relationship with Chelsy Davy, stating that press intrusion led her to decide that a royal life was not for her, which was incredibly upsetting for him at the time.
The prince also addresses rumours that his biological father was James Hewitt, a man his mother, Princess Diana, had a relationship with after he was born. Harry states that he was not aware that his mother had not met Major Hewitt until after his birth. He goes on to say that he felt constantly suspicious of everyone around him, and although people referred to his mother as paranoid, she was actually fearful of what was happening to her.
Harry’s statement also includes various key points, such as his belief that both the UK press and government are at rock bottom, and his shock and appall at the sheer volume of payments made by MGN titles to private investigators. He criticises the cowardice of journalists not giving evidence in court and admits to using the phrase “two-face s***” about his mother’s former butler, Paul Burrell.
In his statement, Harry emphasises his desire to expose the unlawful behaviour of those in the media who have stolen or hijacked the privileges and powers of the press. He believes that there is a responsibility to expose this criminal activity in the name of public interest.
On Monday, lawyers for both sides made their opening arguments, with David Sherborne, representing Harry, claiming that Mirror journalists listened to voicemail messages from Princess Diana while Piers Morgan was editor of the newspaper. MGN’s lawyer, Andrew Green, argued that there was no evidence to support the duke’s claims and dismissed the allegation that Princess Diana’s voicemails were hacked as “total speculation” and “without any evidential basis whatsoever”.
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