Harry wants second trial with Mirror publisher over phone-hacking claims despite winning £140k in December

30 January 2024, 08:03 | Updated: 30 January 2024, 09:44

Prince Harry
Prince Harry. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Prince Harry wants a second phone-hacking trial against the Mirror, despite the newspaper group seeking to recoup £350,000 in legal costs from other complainants in his case.

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Harry won £140,600 from Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) in December, with a judge deciding that 15 of the 33 sample articles he was unhappy with came from unlawful information gathering.

The Duke of Sussex was the first royal to give evidence in court for 130 years.

But a lawyer for the duke has now said that a further trial is needed "as soon as practicable" on 115 more articles, unless the Mirror publisher agrees to his compensation claim.

The second trial that Harry is pushing for is said to concern articles on his relationship with his father King Charles, as well as his brother Prince William, his previous girlfriends before Meghan Markle, and his career in the army.

Read more: Prince Harry awarded £140,000 as judge rules he was victim of 'extensive' phone hacking by Mirror newspapers

Read more: Prince Harry set for court showdown with The Sun but judge throws out phone hacking case

Prince Harry at the phone hacking trial
Prince Harry at the phone hacking trial. Picture: Getty

His barrister James Sherborne said: “Although the duke is certainly prepared to attempt to resolve the remainder of his claim through agreement, it is necessary to list the trial of the remainder of his claim as soon as is practicable."

It comes as MGN seeks to get significant legal costs from some of Harry's co-claimants in the phone-hacking trial - Michael Le Vell and Nikki Sanderson of Coronation Street, and Fiona Wightman, the former wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse. The company says that all three have insurance that can cover the payments.

Mr Le Vell won £31,650, having demanded £175,000 and been offered £50,000 during mediation. MGN wants him to pay £122,512 to cover its lawyers costs.

Ms Sanderson came away with nothing, having rejected a mediation offer of £160,000 because she wanted £240,000.

Harry's lawyer David Sherborne
Harry's lawyer David Sherborne. Picture: Getty

The judge ruled that she had made her claim too late, although she did suffer unlawful information-gathering and would have been entitled to over £67,000.

MGN also want Ms Sanderson to pay legal fees of £122,512.

Ms Wightman also received no compensation because her claim was made late, although she would have been entitled to over £22,000. MGN have said that she should cover £106,625 of its costs.

Mr Justice Fancourt said he would make a ruling on the legal costs issue at a later date.

The findings could determine the outcomes of other claims against MGN, including from singer Cheryl Cole, ex-footballer Ian Wright, and actor Ricky Tomlinson.

Harry and his co-claimants are seeking more than £2 million from the publisher.

Rachel Johnson criticises Prince Harry's campaign against the media

Awarding Harry damages in December, Mr Justice Fancourt said there was “extensive” phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers from 2006 to 2011, “even to some extent” during the Leveson Inquiry.

The judge said Harry’s personal phone was targeted repeatedly between 2003 and 2009 and that 15 of 33 sample articles shown in court were ‘the product of phone hacking… or the product of other unlawful information gathering”.

Mr Justice Fancourt said: "I have found the duke's case of voicemail interception and unlawful information gathering proved in part only."

I found that 15 out of the 33 articles that were tried were the product of phone hacking of his mobile phone or the mobile phones of his associates, or the product of other unlawful information-gathering.

Harry also has ongoing legal cases against News Group Newspapers, which publishes the Sun, and Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Mail.