The Duke of Sussex has resolved his outstanding claims of phone hacking against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN). According to sources, the publishers will cover all of Prince Harry’s legal expenses and provide approximately £300,000 in additional compensation.
This resolution concludes a four-year legal dispute between the prince and the publisher, which involved allegations of unlawful intrusion into 115 stories.
Speaking on behalf of the prince outside the High Court, lawyer David Sherborne stated, “Our mission continues.” He also criticized former Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan, accusing him of being aware of the hacking activities during his tenure.
The 115 stories in question were published between 1996 and 2010. Prince Harry testified in court last June, asserting that the information could only have been obtained through illegal means. In December, the court found evidence of widespread phone hacking within the group.
Former editor Piers Morgan, who held the position from 1995 to 2004, denied knowledge of any hacking attempts by newspaper staff. However, he agreed with Prince Harry’s condemnation of intrusion into the royal family’s private lives.
Mr. Justice Fancourt criticized the contentious nature of the legal battle between the two parties. In December, the duke was awarded £140,600 in damages for winning 15 claims against MGN. The recent settlement pertains to 115 additional stories.
Prince Harry’s legal representative stated in court that his client would receive a significant sum in damages from MGN, in addition to having all legal costs covered. It is understood that the prince could receive around £300,000 in total damages.
MGN expressed satisfaction with the agreement, stating it allows them to move forward from past events for which they have apologized. The publisher acknowledged historical wrongdoing and emphasized their commitment to compensation and responsibility.
Prince Harry was one of several high-profile individuals pursuing claims against MGN for unlawful intrusion into their private lives. If a settlement had not been reached, the 115 articles in question could have been subject to further legal proceedings.
In a statement outside the court, Mr. Sherborne emphasized the court’s damning judgment and called for accountability from all parties involved, including Piers Morgan, who, according to the judge, was aware of the hacking activities.
“Even his employer realized it simply could not call him as a witness of truth,” the statement continued.
“His contempt for the court’s ruling and his continued attacks ever since demonstrate why it was so important to obtain a clear and detailed judgment.”
The statement ended by saying that “our mission continues” and that the prince would “continue to see it through to the end”.
Coronation Street actor Michael Turner, known professionally as Michael Le Vell, actress Nikki Sanderson, and Fiona Wightman, the ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse, had also brought similar claims against the company.
The claims brought by Ms Sanderson and Ms Wightman were dismissed because they were made too late, despite the judge finding that some of their complaints were proven.
Mr Justice Fancourt ruled that both should pay MGN the legal costs of defending their claims.
The judge also ruled that Mr Turner should pay MGN’s costs of responding to his claim from the date of 5 March 2022, where an offer was made.
A veteran of phone-hacking claims, Mr Justice Fancourt criticized the way this legal battle was conducted.
Some claimants had refused to negotiate with MGN, he said and had exaggerated their allegations without being realistic.
Prince Harry did not appear in court on Friday, having returned to the US this week after visiting his father King Charles following his cancer diagnosis.
The prince has been a longstanding and outspoken critic of the British tabloid press.
He has been involved in several legal battles in recent years, with several still to be resolved – including claims of unlawful information gathering by the Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers, set for trial in 2025.
Last month, he withdrew a libel claim against the Mail on Sunday publisher, Associated Newspapers. That was over an article about his publicly-funded security arrangements when visiting the UK after stepping back as a senior royal.