The judge was not happy with Prince Harry’s highly anticipated legal showdown with the publisher of the Daily Mirror, in which he appeared in court without being present on Monday.
Harry’s lawyer stated that Lilibet, his two-year-old daughter, who resides in Los Angeles, would not be able to testify following the birthday celebration on Sunday, as she took a flight. The prince, also referred to as the Duke of Sussex, made this statement after the opening statements.
Expressed Justice Timothy Fancourt, “I’m slightly taken aback,” observing that he had instructed Harry to attend the initial day of his trial in London’s High Court.
Andrew Green, the attorney representing Mirror Group Newspapers, voiced his apprehension regarding Harry’s nonattendance during the initial day of the proceedings, asserting that he was profoundly unsettled.
The Mirror Daily, which is part of the Mirror Newspapers Group, is the first publisher to allege that three tabloid publishers unlawfully snooped on him in their cutthroat competition for scoops on the royal family. As a result, the prince has filed several lawsuits against the media and is expected to go to trial.
Previously, as they have acknowledged, it seemed unlikely that the publisher’s newspapers employed a private investigator to uncover negative information about the prince, stated Harry’s attorney, David Sherborne. Unauthorized phone tapping and various illegal methods of gathering information were conducted extensively.
“The defendant believes that the consequences justify the methods,” Sherborne said.
Sherborne stated that approximately 2,500 pieces had encompassed every aspect of his life — ranging from his ailments during his time at school to the fluctuations in his romantic relationships. Accounts regarding Harry were highly sought after by the press.
Sherborne stated that there was never a moment in his life when he was protected from these undertakings. “Or off-limits,” nothing was regarded as holy.
Mirror Group has stated that it utilized documents, public declarations, and sources to lawfully cover the activities of the prince.
Just like they did with others, Mirror journalists employed identical methods with Harry, which included listening in on voicemails and engaging private investigators to gather information. Sherborne mentioned that inferring this was not difficult.
The lawyer informed Prince Harry last week that he should attend the proceedings on Monday, before the opening statements concluded, but Harry was scheduled to testify on Tuesday.
Harry, 38, will be the first member of the British royal family in over a century to give testimony in court when he takes the stand. He is anticipated to recount the influence it has had on those in his vicinity and his personal life, as well as the incessant harassment from the media which has caused him great distress and frustration.
In 2020, the pair escaped to the United States and abandoned their royal lifestyle, attributing the car accident that claimed the life of his mother, Princess Diana, to the paparazzi. They further stated that the British media’s constant harassment and invasion of privacy, which included purportedly racist pieces about his spouse, Meghan, played a role in their choice.
Mirror reported that King Charles III’s parents were feeling “badly” about the divorce when he turned 12 on his birthday in 1996, and the issue was discussed extensively in articles at the time.
Their family members, as well as the women in his life, were “pulled into the disorder” against their will. As he experienced “enormous episodes of sadness and distrust,” his relationships crumbled, and his group of friends diminished. Friends and acquaintances were divulging information to the press, thus betraying him. Ongoing sensationalized stories in tabloids left him apprehensive and questioning who he could rely on, as stated by Harry in legal papers.
He says that later he discovered that the source wasn’t a loyal friend, but rather aggressive private investigators and journalists hired to track him to faraway locations in Argentina and an island off Mozambique, intercept his voicemails, and uncover information.
The Mirror Group stated that their articles were based on legitimate reporting techniques and that they did not hack Harry’s phone, apologizing and admitting to hiring a private investigator to uncover dirt on him during one night out at a bar. The 2004 article, titled “Sex on the Beach with Harry,” is not in question during the trial.
Phone hacking, which involved the act of guessing or acquiring security codes to eavesdrop on celebrities’ mobile phone voice messages, was prevalent among British tabloids during the early years of the 21st century. The industry encountered a critical situation when it was exposed in 2011 that the News of the World had illegally accessed the phone of a murdered 13-year-old girl.
Rupert Murdoch, the proprietor, closed down the News of the World, and a number of his executives underwent legal proceedings.
Executives, such as Piers Morgan, who served as editor of the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004, refute any knowledge of the hacking activities. In 2015, Mirror Group issued an apology to the victims of phone hacking and made a payment exceeding $125 million to resolve numerous illegal information-gathering allegations.
When he is cross-examined by Attorney Group’s Mirror, Harry’s fury at the British press and sometimes at his own royal relatives can be seen as collusion with the media through his memoir “Spare,” interviews with Oprah Winfrey, and tough claims in court.
The second phase of the trial marks the opening statements, accusing three others and Harry of unlawfully gathering information and hacking the Group Mirror’s phone.
According to attorney David Sherborne, who is representing Harry and the other claimants, including two actors from the soap opera “Coronation Street,” in the initial stage, the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, and Sunday People engaged in “extensive and regular” illegal activities that were conducted on a “massive” level.
Two judges, including Justice Timothy Fancourt, are currently overseeing the trial to determine whether the two other cases of phone-hacking related to Harry will proceed in the process.
It was contended that the lawsuits should be dismissed as Harry did not file them within a six-year timeframe after uncovering the purported misconduct. These lawsuits were against Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, the publisher of the Sun, and Associated Newspapers, the owner of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.
Lawyer Harry argued that claimants other than the publishers who lied to hide illegal actions should be granted an exception to the time limit.