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Stories legally obtained says Mirror KC

Prince Harry has been quizzed in court about a series of articles which form part of his privacy action and which the lawyer for the Mirror publisher said came via legal means.

The Duke of Sussex was giving evidence to support his claim that 33 articles published by Mirror Group Newspapers about him where the result of illegal information gathering and hacking. Following are seven times the lawyer for the Mirror insisted that articles Harry said must have been sourced illegally had in fact come via legal means.

‘Harry ready to quit Oz’ article ‘came from royal aide’

Andrew Green KC, representing MGN, questioned Harry about an article headlined “Harry is ready to quit Oz” published in the Mirror in September 2003.

Green said it appeared that information about Harry “watching TV and videos” – which the duke said in his written statement was a bid to avoid camera crews – came from aide Mark Dyer.

“It doesn’t appear that way,” the duke said, later adding: “I don’t accept that Mr Dyer was freely speaking to the press.”

Green said to Harry that “the information that you are alleging came from voicemail interception or unlawful information-gathering … in fact came from your minders”.

Harry said he saw similarities in reports by other newspapers, adding that the coverage showed: “The level of interest and fascination with my life even when I’m in the middle of the Australian outback.”

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Harry leading Eton parade article ‘came from press release’

The Duke of Sussex faced questions about an April 2003 Mirror article about Harry leading cadets at an Eton parade.

Green put it to Harry that the information complained about in this three-line story came from a St James Palace press release.

The MGN barrister said the Press Association had reported about Harry leading the tattoo on the same day as the press release and had quoted an Eton spokesman.

Green asked if there was anything objectionable in the Press Association coverage.

The duke said he was not aware of the Press Association report, adding: “I don’t believe that they have admitted hacking in any shape or form.”

The court heard from Harry that he also complained about a Mirror article published on the same day about the same story.

He said he had brought a claim for damages over the articles “based on the legal advice that I have been given”.

In his written witness statement, he said of the journalist who wrote the second cadet parade story “that at least one of his bylined articles has previously been admitted by MGN to have been the product of unlawful information-gathering”.

Mirror says ‘Harry took drugs’ article was News of the World follow up

The duke was questioned about a Sunday Mirror article published in January 2002 entitled “Harry took drugs”.

The Mirror barrister said it was the News Of The World newspaper that “broke the story” about the duke smoking cannabis. “The untrue story, yes,” Harry said.

Green said the News Of The World had contacted the duke’s father’s office about the story, and “the palace” had “cooperated” with the coverage via “spin doctor” Mark Bolland.

When asked whether this was the source of information in the Sunday Mirror, Harry said: “I wasn’t the one that wrote the article so you will have to asked the journalists.”

Extracts from Harry’s memoir Spare were read out in court by the MGN barrister, in which the duke complained of there being a “putrid strategy” to “spin me right under the bus” over the News Of The World piece. In court, the duke said the News Of The World story was a “red rag to a bull” for newspapers, with editors asking “why didn’t you get this” and saying “make this into an exclusive for ourselves”.

Harry said the incident was “less about what’s in the story itself” but “the activity behind the scenes”, referring to the alleged use of private investigators to secure information. The Sunday Mirror was on the back foot and therefore did everything they could,” the duke said.

Green asked Harry if he accepted it was a matter of public interest someone in line to the throne was allegedly taking drugs. Harry replied that there was a difference “between public interest and what interests the public”, adding of the story: “Every element of it was distressing”.

Rock climbing article first reported in Mail on Sunday

Referring to an article which reported that the duke and his brother were going rock-climbing rather than attending a gala for the late Queen Mother, Green asked Harry if it was his case that came from unlawful voicemail interception.

Green asked whose phone the duke believed was hacked in order to get that information, with Harry replying that “it could have been anyone, from myself, my brother” or two other people.

Asked which information he thought had been obtained unlawfully, Harry said: “There’s quite a lot of aspects, quotes and information in there, not to mention a large part of the reason we were going rock climbing 270 miles away was to get away from press intrusion.”

Green asked Harry if he was aware MGN denies that one of its suppliers was involved in any unlawful information-gathering.

Harry said he was but that it was “impossible to believe” given the level of interest in him as well as in the royal family, and how “desperate journalists were for anything royal”.
He again referred to “competition” between newspapers for “any element of our private lives that is interesting to the public”.

Green then referred to a Daily Mail article about the same rock climbing trip, published two days before the Mirror article, which said Buckingham Palace had confirmed the princes’ absence from the gala.

Harry said the palace would have answered “in response to a question, which one might be suspicious about, I suggest”.

Green put to Harry that a Mail On Sunday article published the day before the Mirror one was “in substance, the very same private information that you are complaining about in the Daily Mirror, isn’t it?”, to which the duke replied: “It is one element of it, yes.”

The barrister asked if the duke still questioned how the information was in the public domain given the Mail and Mail On Sunday articles in the days before the Mirror one, to which Harry replied: “Yes, I do.”

The duke added that, based on his understanding of how the press operate, just because information was already in the public domain did not mean there was not “an attempt to take the story further”, adding: “A lot of work would have been done on people’s mobile phones within those two days.”

He also said the Mirror article caused him distress because it meant the story was seen by “more people”, adding: “From my perspective, being at school, not everybody read the Daily Mail.”

‘Harry breaks thumb’ piece came from PA

Green also asked Harry about an article headlined “Snap: Harry breaks thumb like William” which appeared in the Daily Mirror in November 2000.

Harry confirmed to Green that he complains about the reporting in this article of an injury to his thumb and added: “I do not believe that is in the public interest.”

The duke said he was not aware the information about his thumb had been reported by the Press Association, now the PA news agency, in an article the day before the Mirror one which quoted a St James’s Palace spokesperson.

Asked whether he had expressed any concerns to the Press Association about that article, Harry said he had not, adding that he was “not aware” of it.

He was then asked whether he had expressed concerns to other media outlets that reported the same story at the time, to which he responded he had not because unlawful information-gathering was “not systemic” at those titles.

Harry said he believed information in the Mirror article which was obtained through unlawful means included a paragraph stating that doctors had told him he could not play football for a few weeks.

He added that this had affected him as a “young man at school” who had to go to the medical centre and could not now “trust the doctors”.

The duke also said he had not expressed any concerns about a BBC article, adding: “As far as I know, the BBC hasn’t been brought into question with regard to unlawful information-gathering.”

Green asked the duke if he still maintains the information in the Mirror article by the newspaper’s then-royal editor Jane Kerr, who is due to give evidence on Wednesday, resulted from unlawful information-gathering.

Harry replied: “I believe it was, either probably herself or she got someone else to do her dirty work for her.”

Asked whose phone he believes was hacked to find out the information, he said: “The doctor’s? I am not sure.”

Green asked: “Are you not in the realms of total speculation?”, to which Harry replied: “No, I do not believe so.”

Pub visit story could have come via chef

The Duke of Sussex answered questions in relation to a Daily Mirror 3am section article published in September 2000 about Harry’s visit to a gastropub in Fulham, London, to mark his birthday.

Harry said it was “my understanding” that “the 3am section of the Mirror has quite a lot of evidence against them of unlawful activity”. “I have no idea how this article and the elements of this article made their way into the newspaper,” the duke said.

Andrew Green suggested that an agency photographer heard about him about being in the pub or that information could have come from its owner celebrity chef Ed Baines.

Harry said the photographer “could have been there before I got there”, later adding he imagined the chef would have been “quite busy” working.

The duke later said of the story: “It is shortly after my 16th birthday and I was hoping to have a private lunch with friends and somehow a photographer found me and somehow a story ended up in the newspaper about it.”

He said he remembered having “to leave place like that when I was occasionally out and about wanting to have some form of a life”. The duke added that he remembered “leaving a pub, restaurant, night club and being confronted by photographers”. He earlier said he did not walk on the street because “I get recognised”.

The duke told the court his understanding is that there have been a “huge number” of private investigator invoices uncovered from around the time of articles which appeared, and said he believed the “vast majority” of stories that appeared were the result of some unlawful activity.

He said he understood that the “competitiveness of newspapers” at the time meant journalists were told “to go and find a different version of that story” or an exclusive angle.

Asked whether he was basing his complaints about MGN articles on invoices, he said: “My understanding is that during this period the hacking was done on burner phones so there is no call data and most of the evidence has been destroyed, so I have little to go on.”

Nothing unlawful about speaking to people who were at party

Harry faced questions over a January 2005 Daily Mirror article that reported his then girlfriend Chelsy Davy was “furious he flirted with a mystery brunette” at a party at which the duke wore a “nazi swastika armband” and that Ms Davy “gave him a tongue-lashing down the phone”.

Andrew Green KC, for MGN, said there was “nothing unlawful” about the article’s author speaking to people who were at the party.

“No, if that’s indeed what she did,” Harry replied.

Green told the court that one quote in the story was attributed to “a pal”, but it had been revealed that the source was Ms Davy’s uncle.

In his written witness statement, the duke said: “The article contains several quotes from ‘friends’ or other ‘partygoers’, but the details about our telephone communications are not attributed to anyone, so how could the defendant’s journalists know about this?”

Commenting on the quote attribution in court, Harry said it was “what I would do if I was doing something illegal”, adding that the article was trying to “distract” from the “true means of obtaining the information”.

Elsewhere in his witness statement, Harry said it “seems obvious” from call data relating to the mobile phone of Guy Pelly that journalists were “digging round my associates to gain private information about me”.

Green asked if the duke was inferring that there was a message on Pelly’s phone about him being given a tongue lashing.

“Possibly,” the duke replied.

The MGN barrister asked a question over why Pelly was not giving evidence, with Harry saying in reply that he wanted “to spare most of my friends from this experience”.

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