'I have never hacked a phone': Piers Morgan launches blistering attack on Prince Harry after High Court ruling

15 December 2023, 15:33 | Updated: 15 December 2023, 16:25

Piers Morgan took aim at Prince Harry in an explosive statement
Piers Morgan took aim at Prince Harry in an explosive statement. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Piers Morgan has denied hacking phones or ordering anyone to do the same as he blasted Prince Harry, claiming the royal is on a mission to "destroy the monarchy".

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He launched an explosive rebuttal to the Duke of Sussex in the wake of the prince's landmark win against The Mirror's publisher.

Mr Morgan, a former editor, was said to have been aware of hacking during his time there by a high court judge today.

But Mr Morgan said in a blunt statement at his London home he denied that and accused Harry of working with Meghan Markle to "destroy" the royals.

He said Harry had "callously" attacked the royal family for money, and that he would not know the truth if it "slapped him around his California-tanned face".

Mr Morgan said: "Today, a judge in the High Court in London has ruled on various cases, including Prince Harry’s claim against Mirror Group Newspapers, where I was an editor until 2004.

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

Piers Morgan reads a statement following the conclusion of the Duke of Sussex's trial

Piers Morgan launched a blistering attack on Harry and others who have taken aim at him
Piers Morgan launched a blistering attack on Harry and others who have taken aim at him. Picture: Alamy

"The judgement finds there is just one article relating to the prince published in the Daily Mirror in my entire nine year tenure as editor that he thinks may have involved some unlawful information gathering.

"To be clear, I had then, and still have, zero knowledge of how that particular story was gathered.

"All his other claims against the Daily Mirror under my editorship were rejected.

"With regard to the judge’s other references to me in his judgement, I also want to reiterate, as I’ve consistently said for many years now, I’ve never hacked a phone or told anybody else to hack a phone.

"And nobody has produced any actual evidence to prove that I did."

Mr Justice Fancourt said at the High Court that Prince Harry was the victim of phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) and awarded him a total of £140,600 in damages.

Prince Harry has again drawn the ire of Piers Morgan
Prince Harry has again drawn the ire of Piers Morgan. Picture: Alamy

The judge 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".

In his ruling, Mr Justice Fancourt said he accepted the evidence from royal writer Omid Scobie, who claimed Mr Morgan was told about a use of phone hacking.

During the trial earlier this year, Mr Scobie said he was on work experience at The Mirror in 2002 when he overheard Mr Morgan being told that details relating to Kylie Minogue and her then-boyfriend James Gooding had come from voicemails.

In his judgment on Friday, Mr Justice Fancourt said: "Mr Scobie was pressed hard about the likely veracity of these accounts... I found Mr Scobie to be a straightforward and reliable witness, and I accept what he said about Mr Morgan's involvement in the Minogue/Gooding story.

"No evidence was called by MGN to contradict it."

But Mr Morgan fired back, saying he was never called to give evidence legal process so he "wasn't able to respond to any false allegations that were spewed about me in court, by old foes of mine with an axe to grind".

"I note the judge appears to have believed the evidence of Omid Scobie, who lied about me in his new book, and he lied about me in court, and the whole world now knows him to be a deluded fantasist."

After the judgement, Harry said: "Today is a great day for truth, as well as accountability. The court has ruled that unlawful and criminal activities were carried out at all three Mirror group newspaper titles – the Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People – on a habitual and widespread basis for over more than a decade.

"This case is not just about hacking – it is about a systemic practice of unlawful and appalling behaviour, followed by cover-ups and destruction of evidence, the shocking scale of which can only be revealed through these proceedings."

But that victory statement has riled Mr Morgan.

"Prince Harry's outrage at media intrusion into the private lives of the royal family is only matched by his own ruthless, greedy and hypocritical enthusiasm for doing it himself," he said.

"He talked today about the appalling behaviour of the press - but this is a guy who's repeatedly trashed his family in public for hundreds of millions of dollars even as two of its most senior and respected members were dying. His grandparents.

"It's hard to image, frankly, more appalling behaviour than that. As for him saying this is a good day for truth, the Duke has been repeatedly exposed in recent years as someone who would not know the truth if it slapped him around his California-tanned face.

"He demands accountability for the press, but refuses to accept any responsibility for himself, for smearing the royal family, his own family, as a bunch of callous racists without producing a shred of proof to support those disgraceful claims.

"He also says he's on a mission to reform the media when it’s become clear his real mission along with his wife is to destroy the British monarchy.

"And I will continue to do whatever I can to stop them. Merry Christmas."

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