Prince Harry in High Court: Key points from Duke of Sussex’s witness statement explained as he gives evidence
Prince Harry is appearing at the High Court in London today (June 6) as his case against the publisher of the Daily Mirror over alleged unlawful information gathering begins. The Duke of Sussex is suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for damages, claiming its journalists gathered information through illegal means, including phone hacking.
Prince Harry will become the first senior royal to give evidence in court since Edward VII testified as a witness in part of a divorce case in 1870 and 20 years later in a slander trial over a card game, both before he became king. The Duke of Sussex’s witness statement has been released as he begins giving evidence in court.
In the statement, he said his decision to move to California with his wife Meghan Markle was "in large part... due to the constant intrusion, inciting of hatred and harassment by the tabloid press into every aspect of our private lives, which had a devastating impact on our mental health and wellbeing.”
The 55-page statement added: “It is no secret that I have had, and continue to have, a very difficult relationship with the tabloid press in the UK. In my experience as a member of the Royal Family, each of us gets cast into a specific role by the tabloid press.
"You start off as a blank canvas while they work out what kind of person you are and what kind of problems and temptations you might have. They then start to edge you towards playing the role or roles that suit them best and which sells as many newspapers as possible.
“As a teenager and in my early twenties, I ended up feeling as though I was playing up to a lot of the headlines and stereotypes that they wanted to pin on me mainly because I thought that, if they are printing this rubbish about me and people were believing it, I may as well ‘do the crime’, so to speak.
"It was a downward spiral, whereby the tabloids would constantly try and coax me, a ‘damaged’ young man, into doing something stupid that would make a good story and sell lots of newspapers. Looking back on it now, such behaviour on their part is utterly vile."
The extensive statement also includes how Prince Harry recalls incidents which are hallmarks of phone hacking. He said: "I remember on multiple occasions hearing a voicemail for the first time that wasn’t new – I would simply put it down to perhaps a technical glitch ... or even just having too many drinks the night before and having forgotten that I’d listened to it.
"Sometimes (the) symbol would vanish before I had a chance to listen to the voicemail. I also distinctly remember people saying to me ‘did you not get my voicemail?’.
“I was like, ‘no’, and sometimes I would go back into my voicemail to look for it but still couldn’t find it. I now understand their significance in terms of phone hacking. I believe that both mine and my associates’ voicemail messages were hacked by the defendant."
During the court apperance, Prince Harry took aim at Piers Morgan, he said: “The thought of Piers Morgan and his band of journalists earwigging into my mother’s private and sensitive messages ... makes me feel physically sick and even more determined to hold those responsible, including Mr Morgan, accountable for their vile and entirely unjustified behaviour.”