Prince Harry accepts ‘substantial’ payout in phone hacking lawsuit

Prince Harry said Friday that his “mission” to rein in the British media continues, after he accepted costs and damages from a tabloid publisher that invaded his privacy with phone hacking and other illegal snooping.

Harry’s attorney, David Sherborne, said at a court hearing that Mirror Group Newspapers had agreed to pay all of Harry’s legal costs, plus “substantial” damages, and would make an interim payment of 400,000 pounds (CA$680,120) within 14 days. The final tab will be assessed later.

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Phone hacking by British newspapers dates back more than two decades to a time when scoop-hungry journalists regularly phoned the numbers of royals, celebrities, politicians and sports stars and, when prompted to leave a message, punched in default passcodes to eavesdrop on voicemails.

The practice erupted into a full-blown scandal in 2011 when Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World was revealed to have intercepted messages of a murdered girl, relatives of dead soldiers and victims of a bombing. Murdoch closed the paper, and a former News of the World editor was jailed.

Newspapers were later found to have used other intrusive means such as phone tapping, home bugging and obtaining details of medical records through deception.

FILE – Prince Harry (L), Duke of Sussex, and barrister David Sherborne (R) leave the Rolls Building at the Royal Courts of Justice after giving evidence in the Mirror Group phone hacking trial. Prince Harry was one of several claimants in a lawsuit against Mirror Group Newspapers related to allegations of unlawful information gathering in previous decades.

Tejas Sandhu / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Mirror Group Newspapers said it has paid more than 100 million pounds (CA$170 million) in phone hacking lawsuits over the years, but denied wrongdoing in Harry’s case. It said it used legitimate reporting methods to get information on the prince.

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Harry lashed out at former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who denies knowing about phone hacking when he was at the paper. Morgan is a strong critic of Harry and Meghan.

In his statement Harry said Morgan “knew perfectly well what was going on.”

“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 prince said.

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