UK tabloid group admits to illegally gathering information about Prince Harry

LONDON (AP) — The publisher of the British tabloid’s Daily Mirror has admitted and apologized for illegally collecting information about Prince Harry and said it must pay compensation, at the start of the prince’s first phone-hacking inquiry.

The Mirror Group was included in court filings outlining the newspaper’s defense.

The group continued to deny hacking phones to intercept voicemail messages, and said Harry and three lesser-known celebrities brought their claims out of time.

But it admitted there was “some evidence of instruction by third parties to engage in other types of UIG (unlawful information gathering)” for each of the claimants, including the Duke of Sussex. It said it would “guarantee compensation”, but did not specify what form it might take.

“MGN unconditionally apologizes for all such instances of UIG and assures claimants that such conduct will not occur again,” court documents said.

The publisher said its apology was not a tactical move to minimize damages, but “such conduct should never have occurred”.

The trial was Harry’s opening salvo in his legal battle against the British press. Harry and other celebrities are suing the former publisher of the Daily Mirror for invasion of privacy.

It’s the first of Duke’s three phone-hacking cases and threatens to do what he says his family has long feared: put a royal on the witness stand to discuss the embarrassing revelations.

The questionable activities have spanned more than two decades, with journalists and private eyes intercepting voicemails of royals, politicians, athletes, celebrities and even crime victims. A scandal broke out when the hacking came to light.

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Harry is expected to testify in person in June, his lawyer said. This is not his first appearance in the high court, following his surprise appearance last month to observe much of a four-day trial in one of his other cases.

He did not appear for his opening statement at the trial. Harry made his way through London for his father’s coronation on SaturdayKing Charles III, before departing immediately after the ceremony To fly back to California to be with his family for his son’s birthday.

The prince waged a war of words against British newspapers with legal claims and in his best-selling memoir, “Spare.”,” vowing to make it his life’s work to reform the media he blames for the death of his mother, Princess Diana. Died in a car accident in Paris in 1997 while trying to avoid the paparazzi.

Harry is suing the publishers of the Daily Mail and The Sun over a phone-hacking scandal in 2011 that revealed employees of the now-defunct News of the World tabloid tapped mobile phone voicemails after a year-long investigation into journalistic ethics.

Harry outlined his grievances against the media in court papers, saying the press hounded him from his early days and created a narrative that portrayed him as a “‘rod,’ a ‘cheat,’ an ‘underage drunk.’

“Looking back now, such behavior on their part was absolutely despicable,” he said in a witness statement in a similar case.

His cases could further strain family ties since Harry and his wife Meghan left royal life in 2020 and moved to America after complaining about racist attitudes in the British press.

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Mirror Group newspapers and other publishers defended themselves by saying Harry had failed to bring his cases within the six-year time limit.. Duke’s attorney argued that an exception should be granted because the skull publishers actively covered up.

In a shocking revelation last month, which dug up a troubling episode in his father’s life, Harry blamed the delay in bringing the case..

He insisted he was barred from suing The Sun and other newspapers owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch because of a “disclosure agreement” approved by Queen Elizabeth II.

Harry said in a witness statement that this was because he wanted to avoid a situation where a member of the royal family would have to sit in the witness box and recount the specific details of intercepted private and highly sensitive voicemails. Newsgroup newspapers.

“The company was incredibly nervous about this and wanted to avoid the reputational damage it suffered in 1993,” he said, referring to a leaked recording of an intimate conversation – a transcript published in the Sunday Mirror. His father, then the Prince of Wales, was with his consort, now Queen Camilla, in which he compared himself to a tampon.

Harry said his brother Prince William settled his own hacking claims with the newsgroup in 2020 for a “huge sum”. He also said that his father ordered the palace staff to drop his case. Family.

Murdoch’s firm denied there was a “confidentiality agreement” and would not comment on the alleged settlement. The palace did not respond to requests for comment.

Harry has accused reporters from the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People of using illegal methods to gather information from his family and friends for nearly 150 articles. The newspaper said its reporters were wrong about how they got the information, saying they used legal methods for several articles.

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In 2015, The Mirror’s publishers printed a front-page apology for phone hacking and tripled its funding to 12 million pounds ($15 million) to compensate victims.

The Mirror Group said more than 600 claims were settled out of around 830 claims. Of the remaining 104 cases, 86 were filed late, according to court documents.

“Where history has gone wrong, we have acknowledged, accepted full responsibility and apologize unconditionally,” a spokeswoman for Mirror Group newspapers said ahead of the hearing. “But we will vigorously defend our journalists against allegations of legal wrongdoing.”

The cases were joined by former Girls Aloud member Cheryl, the estate of late singer George Michael and ex-footballer Ian Wright in a test case that could determine the outcome of hacking claims against the Mirror Group.

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