Britain’s Prince Harry awarded £140,600 in phone hacking claim against Mirror Group

Judge concludes there was ‘extensive’ phone hacking at newspaper group between 2006 and 2011

Britain’s Prince Harry has hailed a “great day for truth” after winning substantial damages in his hacking case against the Daily Mirror, in a judgment that will have profound implications for the British media.

On Friday a judge ruled there was “extensive” phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) from 2006 to 2011, “even to some extent” during the Leveson inquiry into media standards.

Mr Justice Fancourt found that unlawful information gathering was “widespread” at all three Mirror Group titles, while the use of private investigators was an “integral part of the system”.

The judge ruled there could be “no doubt” that Piers Morgan, the Mirror’s editor between 1995 and 2004, and other senior executives knew about the practice.


Reading a statement outside his home, Mr Morgan furiously denied he was aware of phone hacking during his time as editor.

In an extraordinary personal attack, the TalkTV presenter said the Duke of Sussex “wouldn’t know truth if it slapped him in his California-tanned face”, and claimed Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, were trying to “destroy the British monarchy”.

Morgan said he had not been asked to provide a statement to the court and was unable “to respond to the many false allegations that were spewed about me in court by old foes”. He said he had “never hacked a phone” while editor or told anyone else to, adding: “Nobody has provided any actual evidence to prove that I did.”

After the ruling, Prince Harry called for UK authorities, including the Metropolitan police and the Crown Prosecution Service, “to do their duty for the British public and investigate bringing charges against the company and those who have broken the law”. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said it would “carefully consider” the civil judgment.

Since the Guardian broke the UK’s phone-hacking scandal, which led to the closure of the tabloid newspaper the News of the World in 2011, newspapers have paid out millions in settlements to victims of illegal news gathering, but few cases have come to court.

The judge said MGN had concealed unlawful activity from parliament, shareholders and the public and had emerged “largely unscathed” from the government-appointed Leveson inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press from 2011 to 2012 sparked by the phone-hacking revelations.

The judge said MGN failed “to make full disclosure” to the inquiry, adding that a decision had been taken “at a high level” that the publisher’s interests “were best served by keeping a lid on as much as possible of what had happened”.

Its claim that it did not have the ability to investigate allegations of unlawful activity was “simply untrue”, he said.

“Even today, MGN is not being open about the extent to which voicemail interception and unlawful information gathering went on at its newspapers,” the judge said.

He found that 15 out of 33 articles related to Prince Harry, which were focused on during the trial, were the product of phone hacking or unlawful information gathering.

He concluded that Prince Harry’s phone was hacked “to a modest extent” from the end of 2003 to April 2009, with the practice carefully controlled by senior individuals at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People newspapers.

Recognising the “distress” caused to the prince the judge awarded him £140,600 (€163,874) in damages.

Prince Harry was not in court to hear the judgment, but his lawyer, David Sherborne, read a statement on his behalf outside the high court.

Comparing the result to “slaying of dragons”, the prince said in the statement: “Today is a great day for truth, as well as accountability.

An MGN spokesperson said: “We welcome today’s judgment that gives the business the necessary clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago. Where historical wrongdoing took place, we apologise unreservedly, have taken full responsibility and paid appropriate compensation.”

During a dramatic seven-week trial at the high court this year, Prince Harry became the first royal in 130 years to appear in a witness box at the trial.

Prince Harry was the most high-profile of more than 100 claimants – including the singer Cheryl and the estate of George Michael – who were involved in the wider litigation. Harry’s case, which was used as one of four test cases to establish facts that can be used to award damages to other complainants, was heard alongside claims brought by the Coronation Street actors Michael Turner and Nikki Sanderson, and Fiona Wightman, the former wife of the comedian Paul Whitehouse.

Mr Turner was awarded £31,650 in damages after he also brought a phone-hacking claim against the publisher; Sanderson and Wightman had their claims dismissed because they were made too late.

Prince Harry is known to have also had his phone hacked by Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World and is bringing two separate phone-hacking cases against the publisher of the Sun – which will begin in January – and the publisher of the Daily Mail. – Guardian