Prince Harry’s won the battle, but the war is far from over - Analysis by Cameron Walker

Prince Harry’s won the battle, but the war is far from over - Analysis by Cameron Walker

Piers Morgan issues statement after Harry wins court battle

Cameron Walker

By Cameron Walker

Published: 16/12/2023

- 06:00

The Duke of Sussex was awarded £140,600 worth of damages

Prince Harry's days in court appear to have paid off after a High Court judge ruled "extensive" phone hacking took place at Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).

The ruling came after a gruelling seven-week trial about alleged unlawful information gathering at MGN, involving cases of four "representative" claimants, including the Duke of Sussex.

Justice Fancourt found 15 of the 33 articles about Harry examined at trial resulted from hacking his mobile phone, phones of people close to him, "or the product of other unlawful information-gathering".

The Duke of Sussex was awarded £140,600 worth of damages, but the King’s son doesn’t appear to be motivated by money.

Prince HarryPrince HarryGetty

Prince Harry sees it as his life's mission to take on the British tabloids, whose stories have caused him to have "bouts of depression and paranoia" and distrust of those around him - according to his witness statement submitted in evidence.

He also believes there are thousands of alleged victims of unlawful information gathering who do not have the power, or the financial backing, to take on the UK’s biggest publishers.

Prince Harry’s vindication today could well open the door to many more claims in the future, and the Prince sees it as his duty to hold those in power to account.

The strength of Harry’s glee was evident in his statement on Friday, read out by his lawyer, David Sherborne, after the judge’s ruling.

Prince Harry said: "Today is a great day for truth, as well as accountability…This case is not just about hacking. It is about a systemic practice of unlawful and appalling behaviour."

He continued: "My commitment to seeing this case through is based on my belief in our need and collective right to a free and honest press, and one which is properly accountable when necessary. That is what we need in Britain and across the globe."

\u200bDavid Sherbourne

David Sherbourne reads a written statement on behalf of his legal client Prince Harry following the ruling in his favour in a lawsuit against the Mirror Group

Getty Images

High Court battles are far from over for Prince Harry, who’s also fighting two other powerful publishers over alleged unlawful information gathering.

News Group Newspapers (which publishes The Sun), and Associated Newspapers (which publishes Daily Mail titles) deny the allegations made by Prince Harry, and other high-profile figures, who accuse them of writing intrusive stories about him with information obtained unlawfully.

Prince Harry is separately suing Associated Newspapers for defamation over an article written in the Mail on Sunday about his separate security case against the Home Office.

That is five civil cases the Duke of Sussex is determined to drag through the courts, including his case against Mirror Group Newspapers. Justice Fancourt delivered his ruling for the latter on Friday.

But why drag this all up now? Most of the allegations date from articles written more than a decade ago.

As a working member of the Royal Family, Harry was bound by the unofficial motto of "never complain, never explain".

Prince Harry

Prince Harry brought the court case against Mirror Group Newspapers with a group of other star names


It is extremely rare for a member of the Royal Family to sue a media publication, perhaps for fear of receiving negative press coverage - something Prince Harry is very useful by now.

Stepping back as a working member of the Royal Family has given him the freedom to take on the British press, who he has resented for most of his life.

In Harry’s own words: "I’ve been told that slaying dragons will get you burned. But in light of today’s victory and the importance of doing what is needed for a free and honest press, it is a worthwhile price to pay."

One injured "dragon" has already fought back.

Former editor of the Daily Mirror Piers Morgan, who the court found knew about unlawful activities at MGN, maintains he has "never hacked a phone or told anybody else to hack a phone".

In a seething statement outside his Central London home, Mr Morgan said "Prince Harry’s outrage at media intrusion into the private lives of the Royal Family is only matched by his own ruthless, greedy, and hypocritical enthusiasm for doing it himself."

He continued: "The Duke has been repeatedly exposed in recent years as someone who wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped him around his California-tanned face."

Swords are drawn, but what happens now?

Prince Harry has called on the Metropolitan Police to investigate criminal allegations.

The Metropolitan Police said "We will carefully consider the civil judgment handed down today at the High Court. There is no ongoing investigation."

The Duke of Sussex has won the battle, but the war is far from over.

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