Thursday June 8, 2023 – Prince Harry has admitted to a judge he was not aware of ‘any evidence’ he had been hacked by a tabloid newsgroup.
According to him, it would be an ‘injustice’ if he was denied victory in his High Court phone-hacking case against the publisher of the Mirror.
Andrew Green KC, for Mirror Group Newspapers, put it to the prince that he was ‘in the land of total speculation’ and there were no phonecall records to back up his allegations.
During Harry’s second day in the witness box at the Rolls Building, Mr Green asked him: ‘Are you aware of any evidence that gives any indication whatsoever as to the extent to which you were hacked, if at all?’
The fifth in line to the throne replied: ‘No. That’s part of the reason why I’m here, my lord.’
The KC later said: ‘You’re presumably aware that there’s not a single item of call data to your mobile phone, at any time, from any Mirror Group journalist?’
But Harry, who was far more bullish and confident than on his first faltering day in the witness box, shot back with a claim that the newspaper had destroyed vast amounts of evidence, including by using ‘burner phones’, to hush up its wrongdoing.
Harry appeared close to tears as he finished his historic day and a half of answering questions at the court.
During the final few hours in the witness box, the duke volunteered details of his chequered love life including a trip to a strip club. But he hit out at hurtful and ‘disturbing’ reports in the Mirror Group titles about the break-up of his relationship with his first love Chelsy Davy, and accused The People newspaper of unlawfully accessing their phone records.
Harry, the first senior royal to give courtroom testimony in 132 years, claimed he may have been phone-hacked by Mirror newspapers on a ‘daily basis’ over a period spanning 15 years from when he was a schoolboy at Eton.
He claimed there was ‘hard evidence to suggest an incredible amount of suspiciousness’ and he was hacked on ‘an industrial scale’, telling the trial judge, Mr. Justice Fancourt, that he would ‘feel some injustice’ if his claim was not accepted.
Harry maintained that stories in The People about him and Ms. Davy were ‘incredibly suspicious’ because they quoted ‘palace sources’ at a time when the young couple were being so careful that they never told the Palace ‘anything’.
Harry accused the newspaper of using the attribution ‘palace sources’ to cover up the true source of the information: phone hacking.
At one point, Mr. Green put it to him: ‘So, we’re in the land of total speculation about whether this is voicemail interception?’ The duke replied: ‘No, not at all.’
Mr. Green asked the duke if he was aware that two of Ms. Davey’s friends had been disclosing information to the media. ‘I highly doubt that,’ he said. The former soldier also rejected claims in one story he had ‘loved the Army more’ than Ms. Davey.
And among several terse exchanges with Mr. Green, he claimed Mirror articles were littered with inaccuracies.
Recounting one story alleging Ms Davey ‘blew her top’ about his boozy visit to ‘sleazy’ lapdancing club Spearmint Rhino, Harry said it was ‘factually incorrect, actually, that ‘one of the girls they asked to dance naked was a tall statuesque blonde who bears more than a passing reference to Prince Harry’s girlfriend Chelsy Davy’,’ adding: ‘I’m just saying, my lord, that’s not true.’
He informed Mr. Justice Fancourt: ‘I don’t see any quotes from the, I believe, “Lithuanian lap-dancer” who sat on my lap.’
In his written witness statement, made public on Tuesday, Harry wrote: ‘I don’t think Chelsy did go mad about me going there. We did speak about it over the phone, but I promised her that I hadn’t had a lap dance.’
During his testimony today, Harry recounted an evening in London when a paparazzi photographer had tried to flee in his car when he and his police protection officers attempted to confront him.
He claimed the photographer jumped a red light and drove on the wrong side of the road to get away, ‘endangering everyone around him’.
Harry claimed: ‘He decided to evade the police. That is not normal ‘pap’ behaviour. We believe there was an illegal device in his car.’
The 38-year-old duke’s evidence was far more assured than during his first day in the witness box when he struggled to justify his hacking claims and repeatedly seemed unaware that articles he believed were from hacking were actually just follow-ups from other publications and the BBC, or from official palace statements – and in one case an interview he himself had given.
Pressed further today, he confessed he was not ‘aware’ that a Sunday Mirror story about his split from Ms. Davy had actually been broken previously by the News of the World newspaper.
And on a story about him ‘openly cavorting’ with a blonde friend at Twickenham, he admitted he was not aware its contents had come from the Press Association news agency the day before.
The duke, who has previously denied collaborating with royal author Omid Scobie on the gushing biography Finding Freedom, was asked if he knew Mr Scobie. Harry replied: ‘Yes, I do’, before hastily adding: ‘I know of him.’
The Mirror Group denies all the claims.