He arrived at the court in a black car and entered the court without saying a word to the dozens of journalists waiting for him. As agreed, Prince Harry appeared Tuesday morning at the High Court in London to testify against The Daily Mirror, a tabloid he accuses of hacking phone messages. The event is unprecedented since it is the first appearance of a member of the royal family at the bar in more than a century, since that of the future Edward VII in 1891 for a defamation lawsuit.
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Now exiled in California, the Duke of Sussex, in delicate relations with the rest of the British royal family, has initiated a series of legal proceedings against British newspapers. He who considers the tabloid press responsible for the death of his mother Diana, chased by paparazzi in Paris in 1997, also accuses him of harassment towards his wife Meghan Markle.
In the ongoing trial, which began last month, Harry accuses the publisher of the Daily Mirror of using illicit processes to gather information, including hacking into telephone messages, between 1996 and 2010.
Thirty-three disputed articles were retained by the judge in the proceedings out of 147 targeted by Harry. Setting out the prince's grievances, his lawyer maintains that the press group used the services of "at least 30 private detectives". Harry would have been the victim of illegal collection of information "from his childhood at school" until adulthood, denounced Monday his lawyer David Sherborne, adding that "nothing was sacrosanct or out of bounds". "No aspect of the young prince's life was protected" from press intrusions, the lawyer said, citing his romantic relationships and an argument with his brother William.
At the start of the trial, the Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) - which, in addition to the Daily Mirror, also publishes the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People - issued an "unreserved" apology, acknowledging "some evidence" of illegal information gathering. The publisher's lawyer, Andrew Green, on the other hand, rejected the accusations of interception of voice messages and highlighted the age of the facts. "There is simply no evidence to conclude that the Duke of Sussex was hacked," he said.
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At war with the tabloids
At the end of March, Harry had created a surprise by appearing at the High Court in London - but in the public - on the occasion of a preliminary hearing against ANL, the publisher of the Daily Mail. In his witness testimony, he had explained that "suspicion and paranoia" caused by revelations of private details about his life in the newspaper had pushed him to cut himself off from several friends, notes The Times.
As part of the trial against The Mirror, he is expected to testify again about the biased methods of the tabloid press for which he has paid the price. But this time, directly at the helm. And one thing is certain: the 38-year-old prince does not intend to mince his words with regard to the tabloids that have led him hard since his youngest years. Especially since a few weeks ago, a spokesman for the Sussexes had claimed that the couple had been "chased" in New York by "very aggressive paparazzi". An episode that revived the memory of Diana's death.
No meeting planned with Charles III
Prince Harry's last appearance in the UK was during his whirlwind trip to his father's coronation on May 6, during which he stayed away from his father and his brother William, the heir to the crown, whom he slammed in his memoirs published in January. However, it is unlikely that the Duke of Sussex will use his British stay to meet Charles III on a private visit to Romania.