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

15 December 2023, 10:53 | Updated: 15 December 2023, 11:15

Prince Harry was the victim of mobile phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers
Prince Harry was the victim of mobile phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Prince Harry has been awarded substantial damages after a High Court judge ruled he was the victim of phone hacking by the publisher of The Mirror.

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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.

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”.

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.

"I consider that his phone was only hacked to a modest extent and that this was probably carefully controlled by certain people at each newspaper.

"However, it did happen on occasions from about the end of 2003 to April 2009 (which was the date of the last article that I examined). There was a tendency for the duke in his evidence to assume that everything published was the product of voicemail interception because phone hacking was rife within Mirror Group at the time.

"But phone hacking was not the only journalistic tool at the time and his claims in relation to the other 18 articles did not stand up to careful analysis."

"I have also awarded a sum for aggravated damages, to reflect the particular hurt and sense of outrage that the duke feels because two directors of Trinity Mirror plc, to whom the board had delegated day-to-day responsibility for such matters, knew about the illegal activity that was going on at their newspapers and could and should have put a stop to it.

"Instead of doing so, they turned a blind eye to what was going on, and positively concealed it. Had the illegal conduct been stopped, the misuse of the Duke's private information would have ended much sooner."

A spokesperson for publisher MGN apologised saying: "We welcome today’s judgment that gives the business the necessary clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago.

"Where historical wrongdoing took place, we apologise unreservedly, have taken full responsibility and paid appropriate compensation."

Claims brought by actress Nikki Sanderson and Fiona Wightman, the ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse, were dismissed by Mr Justice Fancourt because they were made too late.

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