Prince Harry has emerged victorious in a High Court battle against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), and he didn’t miss the chance to deliver a pointed blow to his longtime critic, Piers Morgan.
After years of enduring personal attacks from Morgan, Prince Harry’s victory in the High Court has added a sweet touch of vindication to his ongoing battle against media intrusion.
Harry says his mission to purge the press would continue “through to the end” after he accepted substantial damages to settle his case against Mirror Group Newspapers.
In December last year, the High Court in London ruled that Harry had been a victim of unlawful information gathering, including phone-hacking, by journalists with the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People tabloids with the knowledge of their editors.
Judge Timothy Fancourt ruled that approximately half the stories he examined were the result of unlawful acts and awarded the prince – the first British royal for 130 years to give evidence when he appeared as a witness last June – 140,600 pounds ($A272,322) in damages.
That trial had only considered 33 of 148 articles put forward by Harry’s legal team, and on Friday, February 9 his lawyer David Sherborne told a High Court hearing MGN had now agreed to pay further substantial damages and his legal costs, of at least 400,000 pounds ($A774,744), to settle the outstanding claims.
“After our victory in December, Mirror Group have finally conceded the rest of my claim, which would have consisted of another two trials, additional evidence and 115 more articles,” Harry said in a statement following the ruling.
“Everything we said was happening at Mirror Group was in fact happening, and indeed far worse, as the court ruled in its extremely damning judgment. As the judge has said this morning, we have uncovered and proved the shockingly dishonest way the Mirror Group acted for many years and then sought to conceal the truth.”
In a not-so-subtle jab at Morgan, Prince Harry called for authorities to uphold the rule of law, emphasising that even Morgan, as the editor, knew what was going on.
“In light of all this, we call again for the authorities to uphold the rule of law and to prove that no one is above it. That includes Mr [Piers] Morgan, who, as editor, knew perfectly well what was going on, as the judge held,” he said.
“Even his own employer realised it simply could not call him as a witness of truth.
“His contempt for the court’s ruling and his continued attacks ever since demonstrate why it was so important to obtain a clear and detailed judgment.
“As I said back in December, our mission continues. I believe in the positive change it will bring for all of us. It is the very reason why I started this, and why I will continue to see it through to the end.”
Not one to stay quiet, Morgan fired back at Prince Harry through a statement on Twitter.
“I totally agree with Prince Harry that ruthless intrusion into the private lives of the Royal Family for financial gain is utterly reprehensible… and I hope he stops doing it,” Morgan said.
Morgan, who served as the Daily Mirror editor from 1996 to 2004, had been implicated in the December ruling for having knowledge of the “widespread” unlawful conduct. The outspoken broadcaster, who has long been a vocal critic of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, initially contested the ruling, maintaining his innocence and expressing his opposition to the royal couple’s mission.
“I also want to reiterate, as I’ve consistently said, for many years now, I’ve never hacked a phone or told anybody else to hack a phone,” he told reporters outside his home.
“And nobody has produced any actual evidence to prove that I did.”