Prince Harry condemns ‘vile’ behaviour of tabloids who cast him as ‘thicko’ and ‘drug taker’
In addition to Prince Harry’s cross-examination in court, he has provided a 49-page written witness statement, setting out many of his arguments.
We’ll bring you highlights from the witness statement here in between the exchanges live in court.
In it Harry describes how the tabloid media created the public character of ‘Prince Harry’ and shaped how other people viewed him:
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, especially if you are the ‘spare’ to the ‘heir’. You’re then either the ‘playboy prince’, the ‘failure’, the ‘dropout’ or, in my case, the ‘thicko’, the ‘cheat’, the ‘underage drinker’, the ‘irresponsible drug taker’, the list goes on.
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.
I always felt as if the tabloids wanted me to be single, as I was much more interesting to them and sold more newspapers
Green finds the interview that Harry gave to a Press Association journalist in 2002 around his 18th birthday.
It was in turn published in various Sunday newspapers, Green says, for example the Sunday Times.
Green points out the similarities between the Sunday Times article and Daily Mirror article, about which Harry complains.
“The private information about which you complain in the Mirror article had been revealed by you in an interview and then published in Sunday newspapers before appearing in the Mirror article,” Green says.
Do you still maintain that the Mirror article was based on unlawfully gathered information, Green asks.
“I believe the article was connected to an invoice,” Harry says.
“And so what?” Green asks.
“The timing was suspicious,” Harry replies.
“And so what?” Green asks again.
Harry says the appearance of the interview in the Sunday newspapers was enough to incentivise other journalists to unlawfully gather additional information.
Green moves to an article with the headline “Eton Trifles”.
Harry has complained it contains private details of how he celebrated his 18th birthday with his family.
In the witness statement, Harry says the celebration included a low-profile lunch with his father and brother.
Harry says he was obliged to give an interview about the occasion but alleges additional private information was obtained unlawfully for the article.
Did you check to see if there was additional information that didn’t appear in the interview? Green asks.
“I relied on my legal team,” Harry says.
What information was obtained by phone hacking? Green asks.
“The point is birthday was a prime opportunity to find some form of a story, an exclusive, taking a story that exists further,” Harry says.
Did you look back over the interview you consented to? Green asks.
“No,” Harry says.
“This information was highly personal, it was distressing for the reasons I detailed in my witness statement,” Harry says of the articles about his contraction of glandular fever.
Green asks if the Mirror article was more or less distressing than articles in other newspapers about the same matter.
Harry says he is unable to recall exactly which articles he has seen and which he has read.
Green is referring to an article about Harry contracting glandular fever.
Green draws attention to a palace spokesperson’s comments in the article – the inference being the spokesperson could be the source of the article.
But Harry once again points out that this was brought to them by the Mirror journalist – and the palace spokesperson was responding to a question.
The court has resumed after lunch.
Andrew Green KC is continuing to go through the sample articles submitted by Prince Harry to support his claim.
Elsewhere in his written witness statement, Harry says he often noticed the tell-tale signs of phone hacking:
I have never been the named account holder for any mobile that I have had and have almost never received a phone bill.
I remember on multiple occasions hearing a voicemail for the first time that wasn’t ‘new’, but I don’t remember thinking that it was particularly unusual – I would simply put it down to perhaps a technical glitch, as mobile phones were still relatively new back then, or even just having too many drinks the night before (and having forgotten that I’d listened to it).
In his witness statement, Harry says tabloid coverage shaped how schoolfriends, members of the public, and army colleagues viewed him:
I always wondered, when walking into a room of unknown people, whether they had read all these stories and what judgment they had already formed based on what they’d read in the tabloids. Whatever advantage people claimed I had by walking into a room as ‘Prince Harry’ was immediately flipped on its head, because I was facing judgments and opinions based on what had been reported about me, true or not. I expected people to be thinking ‘he’s obviously going to fail this test, because he’s a thicko’.
Having seen me grow up from a baby (being born into this ‘contractual relationship’ without any choice) and scrutinised my every move, the tabloids have known the challenges and mental health struggles that I have had to deal with throughout my childhood and adult life and for them to then play on that and use it to their own advantage, I think is, well, criminal.
Harry alleges Piers Morgan, the former editor of the Daily Mirror, listened to messages left by his mother, Princess Diana:
The thought of Piers Morgan and his band of journalists earwigging into my mother’s private and sensitive messages (in the same way as they have me) and then having given her a ‘nightmare time’ three months prior to her death in Paris, makes me feel physically sick and even more determined to hold those responsible, including Mr Morgan, accountable for their vile and entirely unjustified behaviour.
Later, he says Piers Morgan has targeted him in the press as a result of his phone hacking legal case:
Unfortunately, as a consequence of me bringing my Mirror Group claim, both myself and my wife have been subjected to a barrage of horrific personal attacks and intimidation from Piers Morgan, who was the editor of the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004, presumably in retaliation and in the hope that I will back down, before being able to hold him properly accountable for his unlawful activity towards both me and my mother during his editorship
Harry’s witness statement says that at one point he had to hide in the boot of a car to avoid the paparazzi:
I had just turned 20, and like most 20-year-olds, I wanted to go out and socialise. However, everywhere I went, the paparazzi seemed to turn up even though efforts were always being made to conceal where I was going.
I had to walk out, hold my head high and just try to push past and get in the car. On rare occasions I even hid in the boot …
The paparazzi had me surrounded, their arms in my face. They don’t take photographs like you’d expect, it’s just their arms stretched out pushing a button, taking hundreds of photographs all at once with the flash in your face. I couldn’t even see where I was going. As I reached the car, I could hear taunting, I was being egged on for a reaction, knowing I’d been out and had a few drinks. A camera hit me across my nose as I was opening the door, I turned, grabbed the nearest camera to me and shoved it backwards.
The court is breaking for lunch and will return at 2pm.
Harry has been warned not to discuss his evidence with anyone during the break.
Green continues with the allegations of drug taking that first appeared in the News of the World.
In Harry’s memoir, Spare, he alleges a “spin doctor” within Buckingham Palace worked with the papers on the story.
Harry tells the court the spin doctor to which he refers was Mark Bolland, a PR executive who served as deputy private secretary to the then Prince of Wales, Charles, from 1997 to 2002.
“Private information about you was sometimes provided to the press with the consent of the press … without your consent … or even knowledge,” Green says.
“Private information about you that you present as being gathered unlawfully was actually provided by Mr Bolland.”
The drug-taking story was picked up by other newspapers after it appeared in the News of the World, Green says.
Isn’t it unfair that you allege that the Mirror article was based on unlawfully gathered information when it was already in the News of the World, Green says.
“You’d have to ask the journalists,” Harry replies.
The article about Harry’s alleged drug taking in the News of the World was written by Clive Goodman and Mazher Mahmood, also known as the fake sheikh (Goodman was later jailed for phone hacking and Mahmood was later jailed for perverting the course of justice).
Green reads sections of the News of the World article to Harry and puts it to him that a source within the palace was behind parts of the story, which Harry concedes.
The KC is now reading excerpts from Spare, Harry’s autobiography, which address the drug-taking stories that appeared in the News of the World.
Green says the excerpts show that the “palace was playing ball”.
Green turns to an article that alleges Harry smoked cannabis.
The story originally broke in the News of the World, Green says.
“An untrue story,” Harry replies.
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of the Duke of Sussex. Photograph: Elizabeth Cook/PAA sketch by court artist Elizabeth Cook has been released.
It shows her depiction of the Duke of Sussex with his counsel, David Sherborne, and the judge, Mr Justice Fancourt, looking on.
Accredited journalists have access to a live feed of proceedings as well as access to the court room, and I can say Harry looks less hungover in real life.
Because of who you are there are many different routes that information about you can be communicated to the press, Green suggests.
Harry replies that the number of people he shares his life with has become smaller and smaller over the years.