Harry admits bombshell memoir Spare contradicts legal claims during gruelling testimony in High Court hacking trial

6 June 2023, 18:21 | Updated: 6 June 2023, 18:27

Prince Harry admitted in High Court that his memoir contradicts his testimony.
Prince Harry admitted in High Court that his memoir contradicts his testimony. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Prince Harry has confessed to High Court his memoir Spare contradicts some of the claims he made in his legal testimony against Mirror Group Newspapers.

Prince Harry told court on Tuesday that he could not remember if he wanted to meet his mother’s former butler Paul Burrell, even though the duke claimed his opposition to the meeting allegedly caused a dispute between him and Prince William.

A 2003 article in The People reported that the brothers were in disagreement over whether to meet Mr Burrell, Princess Diana’s former butler who wrote a “tell-all” book about the Princess after her death.

The Prince of Wales wanted to meet the former butler so they could put a stop to any future stories being published. But the article claimed the Duke of Sussex had no intention of meeting Mr Burrell because he was a “two-faced s***”.

Harry’s lawyer, David Sherborne, claimed this report was responsible for the erosion of Harry and William’s relationship, as it sowed “seeds of discord”.

When Harry was questioned about the piece, it was pointed out to him that this seeming opposition he had to the meeting was omitted from his memoir, Spare.

Andrew Green KC, for MGN said: “There is no suggestion in Spare that you were firmly against a meeting.”

Harry replied: “No, because I wrote it when I was 38 years old and in this story I was 18. I assume I would have wanted a meeting…I’d love to give him a piece of my mind.”

When finally pushed, the duke admitted: “I can’t remember whether I wanted a meeting or not.”

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Read more: Prince Harry claims tabloid rumours about his biological father were ‘plan to oust him from royal family’

Read more: From James Hewitt to Paul Burrell: Five key claims from Prince Harry's explosive phone hacking witness statement

The duke was cross-examined on the second day of the trial.
The duke was cross-examined on the second day of the trial. Picture: Alamy

The duke's case against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) started on Monday, when his Barrister David Sherborne claimed he was subjected to unlawful information-gathering activity.

Also referenced in his evidence was an article from The People in 2002, headlined ‘Plot to rob the DNA of Harry’, as it claimed Harry’s DNA needed to be checked to be sure who his father was.

Princess Diana had an affair with Major James Hewitt, which sparked a media frenzy and raised questions about the duke’s parentage at the time.

The duke described the stories as: “Hurtful, mean and cruel. 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?”

He said in his witness statement: “Numerous newspapers had reported a rumour that my biological father was James Hewitt, a man my mother had a relationship with after I was born.

“At the time of this article and others similar to it, I wasn’t actually aware that my mother hadn’t met Major Hewitt until after I was born.”

Read more: Prince Harry lashes out at Piers Morgan over 'barrage of horrific attacks and intimidation' aimed at him and Meghan

Read more: Softly-spoken Harry visibly 'warmed up' as he unleashed his 'bombshell evidence,' says LBC reporter

Harry also referenced rumours previously made in the press about his parentage.
Harry also referenced rumours previously made in the press about his parentage. Picture: Alamy
Harry's testimony reads 55 pages long.
Harry's testimony reads 55 pages long. Picture: Alamy

It was also put to the duke that he said he was first first issued with a mobile phone when he went to Eton in 1998, but the case claims the hackings started as early as 1996.

Harry replied: "That's incorrect. My security at school had a separate room with a land line."

He said "most Sunday nights", after being dropped off by his mother "the first thing we would do is to use the phone to ring her... in floods of tears".

He also said it could have been his mother who was hacked, but Mr Green replied "that's just speculation you've come up with now".

Addressing the High Court in his opening statement yesterday, Harry’s lawyer said the hackings started "right from when he was a young boy at school" into adulthood, adding “nothing was sacrosanct or out of bounds."

The duke’s witness testimony, which is 55 pages long, also alleges that the press wants to break up his marriage with Meghan Markle.

"This twisted objective is still pursued to this day even though I’m now married," he said.

"I simply don’t understand (and never have) how the inner, private details of my relationships ... could have anything to do with the well-being of society or the running of the country and therefore be in the public interest."

Harry arrived outside the Rolls Building in central London at 9.36am in a black Range Rover, wearing a black suit.

He walked into the building without answering reporters' questions before passing security checks inside.

The Duke will return to the witness box for further cross-examination on Wednesday.

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