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Prince Harry Testifies in Court for 2nd Day: Live Updates

Jun 11, 2023Jun 11, 2023

Harry faced a second day of questioning over his accusation that a British newspaper group hacked his cellphone more than a decade ago.

Mark Landler and Megan Specia

LONDON — Prince Harry returned to the witness stand on Wednesday for a second day of testimony in his lawsuit against British tabloids that he accuses of having hacked his cellphone more than a decade ago.

The prince's testimony in High Court in London on Tuesday and Wednesday was a spectacle both ordinary and extraordinary: The younger son of King Charles III was grilled for more than seven hours over his claims that the Mirror Group's reporters had intercepted his voice mail messages and used other illegal means to dig up information about him.

Harry, 38, the first prominent royal to testify in court in more than a century, used the moment to call for sweeping reforms of the British tabloid press, which he has long reviled. He declared in his written testimony that some journalists "have blood on their hands" because of the lengths to which they had gone to ferret out news about him and his family — not least his mother, Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997 after being pursued by photographers.

On Wednesday, Prince Harry's split from the rest of the royal family in his approach to the tabloids was clear. Questioned about why he has taken this case against the Mirror Group, Harry says that his early conversation with lawyers focused on how to "somehow find a way to put the abuse, intrusion and hate that was coming toward me and my wife to a stop," through a legal route "rather than relying on the Institution's way."

To prevail in the legal case, Harry will have to convince the judge, Timothy Fancourt, that the Mirror Group intercepted Harry's voice mail messages and those of people close to him, and used other unlawful means to gather information. Proving hacking could be a high bar, given how much time has passed since the Mirror articles cited by Harry were published, and because the prince has not submitted irrefutable evidence that he was hacked.

The other three plaintiffs in the case are also scheduled to testify in the coming days, and the trial is expected to last a few weeks.

Here is what else to know:

Following Harry's testimony, a former royal reporter for the Mirror, Jane Kerr, took the stand and faced questions from the prince's lawyer about how the tabloid gathered information. Her testimony was briefly interrupted by audio, apparently from someone's unsilenced phone, of a live broadcast about the case. "We are waiting for Prince Harry to come out of court …" a broadcaster could be heard saying before the audio cut off.

The exchanges between Harry and the defense's lawyer focused on articles published by Mirror tabloids that the prince's legal team submitted as evidence, contending that they contain private information that could have been obtained only through illegal means. Andrew Green, a lawyer for the Mirror Group, tried to argue that the information had either been supplied by aides in Buckingham Palace or was already in the public domain.

The Mirror denies hacking Harry's phone, or those of the other plaintiffs, although it admitted in 2014 that it had hacked other public figures and publicly apologized for it the following year. It has conceded unlawfully obtaining information via a private investigator, and said that warranted some compensation to the plaintiffs, though neither side has floated a figure for monetary damages.

For the prince, whose reputation in Britain has been tarnished by his bitter rupture with the royal family, the trial was a rare opportunity to take a stand against a news media that has its own checkered reputation. In written testimony submitted by his lawyers, Harry said the state of the British press, like that of the British government, was at "rock bottom" — another precedent-shattering move, because royals customarily avoid political commentary.

Megan Specia

Prince Harry's lawyer, David Sherborne, is also using his questioning of Jane Kerr, the former Mirror royals editor, to explore several emails sent by a South African freelance journalist whom she employed at the paper.

The lawyer suggested that the freelancer had used illegal means to uncover data about flight bookings by Chelsy Davy, Harry's then girlfriend, and about other details that were fed to royal reporters.

"I barely know this man, and I definitely did not have this relationship with him," Kerr asserted.

Megan Specia

Most of the questions put to Jane Kerr, the former royals editor, by Harry's lawyer have been about how the Daily Mirror gathered information for its articles.

Megan Specia

He has asked about requests for information on victims of the July 7, 2005, suicide-bombing attacks in London and on crime victims that were outsourced by Ms. Kerr — up to 900 times — to a company called Commercial & Legal Services, one of several entities known to have engaged in unlawful information gathering methods.

Megan Specia

She has repeatedly said that she did not remember why the service was used. "You don't remember, or you don't want to remember, Ms. Kerr?" Harry's lawyer asks.

Megan Specia

The surreal nature of this media spectacle was just thrown into stark relief as Jane Kerr's testimony was briefly interrupted by audio, apparently from someone's unsilenced phone, blaring out a live broadcast.

"We are waiting for Prince Harry to come out of court..." a broadcaster could be heard saying before it cut off.

Prince Harry looked toward the noise from his seat.

Megan Specia

Harry's lawyer, David Sherborne, begins his questioning of Jane Kerr, a formal Mirror royals editor, by grilling her about aspects of her biography, specifically that she omitted her title of assistant news editor in her written testimony to court. The lawyer asked whether she was trying to distance herself from the leadership of the organization.

"I am very proud of having worked on the news desk of The Daily Mirror," Ms. Kerr replied.

Stephen Castle

Jane Kerr, who is testifying in the case on Wednesday, spent two decades as a journalist at The Daily Mirror and, as its royal editor, was the author of several of the articles that Prince Harry and his legal team have cited in the lawsuit.

Ms. Kerr worked for The Daily Mirror as assistant editor and royal editor from 1990 until 2010, when she left to work in public relations. She is now a director at Kreab, a strategic communications consultancy, in London.

In his statement to the court, Harry wrote that his lawyers had shown him a witness statement from Ms. Kerr relating to the case, adding: "It would appear from her comments that in most cases she can neither recall the story nor its source." (Harry, questioned by the defense's lawyer on Tuesday and Wednesday, also said he was unable to remember some details of the instances in question, given the amount of time that has passed.)

Some of the articles referred to by Harry's team date back more than two decades. They include one published in November 2000, under the headline "Snap. Harry Breaks Thumb Like William," reporting that Harry had chipped a bone in his hand while playing sports at school. In his statement to the court, Harry called the level of detail in the report "surprising" and said he believed that Ms. Kerr had previously used an investigator to obtain information.

Other stories written by Ms. Kerr and cited in the case include one from January 2002 headlined "Harry's Cocaine Ecstasy and GHB Parties." Another, about his relationship with Chelsy Davy, was published in January 2005 under the headline "Harry's Girl ‘To Dump Him.’"

Ms. Kerr was educated in Kent, in southeastern England, before taking a journalism course at Stradbroke College in Sheffield, according to her profile on LinkedIn.

"I specialize in crisis management and communications, and thrive in fast-faced, high-pressure environment," she wrote on the social media site. "As a former national newspaper journalist with 20 years experience, my passion is writing stories and content that changes the way people think."

Megan Specia

Jane Kerr, a formal Mirror royals editor whose articles were among those submitted by Prince Harry's team and who has been in the courtroom all day, has now taken the stand. She will be questioned by Harry's lawyer, David Sherborne. Harry is still in court and is listening intently. It is expected that she will be asked about the methods used to report some of her articles.

Megan Specia

After a few small questions, the judge has thanked Prince Harry for his testimony, and the prince has left the witness stand after more than seven hours of testimony. He is now sitting with his legal team.

Megan Specia

In his last question, Prince Harry's lawyer asked how he felt about testifying for more than a day and a half, in a highly public setting with the press from around the world watching.

Harry paused, looked down, and then back up and said softly, "It's a lot."

Megan Specia

There are a few final questions from the judge for Prince Harry, but his testimony will be drawing to a close shortly.

Megan Specia

Much of the final minutes of Prince Harry's testimony is an attempt to refute, piece by piece, the case of the defense, who argued that his case against the Mirror was based on speculation. Harry's lawyer is pointing to messages sent by Mirror journalists to known hackers, including one who had Harry's number on his phone, and other suspicious activity.

Megan Specia

"For my whole life, the press have misled about me and covered up their wrongdoing," Harry said, looking at the judge. "And to be sitting here in court," the prince added, while the defense "has the evidence in front of them" and their lead lawyer "suggests that I am speculating, I am not sure what to say about that."

Megan Specia

The new questioning of Prince Harry by his lawyer, David Sherborne, has allowed the team to place a final emphasis on their reasons for choosing the articles put forth in their claim against Mirror Group Newspapers. Harry has testified that the author of one of the articles in question put a tracking device on the car of his then-girlfriend, Chelsy Davy.

Asked how he knew that, he told his lawyer, "We found it."

Stephen Castle

In his hacking lawsuit, Prince Harry aims to land another blow against a tabloid industry that has long been accused of widespread privacy abuses but that has been forced in recent years to rein in its excesses.

So even if Harry, the younger son of King Charles III, wins his suit accusing Mirror Group Newspapers of hacking his cellphone more than a decade ago, analysts question how much of an effect a legal victory would have on publications that have already had to adapt because of hefty legal settlements, prison time for their journalists and the threat of regulation.

The prince has been at war with the raucous, freewheeling press for years. And since Britain's phone-hacking scandal broke, it has forced a News Corporation publication to close, helped send several prominent journalists to jail, reaped hundreds of millions of pounds in legal fees and compensation for victims, and led Parliament to seriously consider regulating the industry.

At the same time, the once-mighty British tabloids have been weakened by a digital revolution that has transformed the global media landscape by gutting revenue, even as the public's appetite for celebrity news has not waned.

"Things have moved — they haven't necessarily got better in every way, but they have definitely moved on," said David Yelland, a former editor of The Sun and founder of Kitchen Table Partners, a communications company. "Tabloid journalism doesn't exist in the form it did."

Megan Specia

Court is back in session after a lunch break, and we will now get our final moments of Prince Harry's testimony as he is questioned by his lawyer, David Sherborne.

Jenny Gross

Harry's testimony this week comes just after the halfway point of a seven-week hearing that is expected to conclude in late June. After the final arguments are heard, the judge, Timothy Fancourt, will issue his ruling.

"There is no set time frame for this," said Jake Conneely, a spokesman for the Royal Courts of Justice.

Harry spent a large part of his testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday describing the harassment and pain that he said journalists at Mirror Group Newspapers, the publisher of three British tabloids, had inflicted on him. But to win the case, Harry and the three other plaintiffs must convince the judge — rather than a jury — that journalists at the publisher's tabloids hacked their phones or used other illegal tactics to gather information about them.

Proving that may not be easy. Harry sought to do this by giving evidence on 33 articles published from 1996 to 2011 that he said had relied on information that could have been obtained only through hacking or other illegal news-gathering methods.

In one instance, he referred to a 2003 article in The People tabloid that quoted a profanity-laced phrase that Harry had used to describe a former butler for his mother, Princess Diana, when the butler revealed personal information about her after her death. Harry said that the phrase could have been picked up from a voice mail message that he had left for his brother, Prince William.

The publisher of the Mirror titles denies hacking Harry's phone, but said in 2014 that it had hacked other public figures and has acknowledged other types of unlawful information gathering.

If Harry loses the case, the legal fees associated with the trial could be costly. A judgment in Harry's favor, in contrast, could also open the door for more people who say Mirror journalists hacked their phones to come forward and file additional lawsuits.

Megan Specia

There had been some speculation in the British press that the hours of cross-examination of Prince Harry could turn up embarrassing details for the former senior royal or cause him to crack under pressure. But in more than seven hours of testimony over two days, the prince remained measured and answered directly, and often reflected on the distress the stories had caused him.

Megan Specia

Promptly at 1 p.m., the court has broken for lunch, though Harry's lawyer said he had about 10 minutes of testimony still to hear. So Harry will return to the stand after lunch.

Megan Specia

Prince Harry's lawyer, David Sherborne, is now touching back on a few of the articles used as evidence in the case, allowing Harry to provide reflections on his distress at some of the details in the information that they claim was unlawfully obtained.

Megan Specia

The articles they are discussing include one from his school years that reported on his feelings about a former gardener who was unwell. "How do you feel about those parts of the article being included?" Mr. Sherborne asks.

Prince Harry replies: "Incredibly intrusive and hurtful."

Jenny Gross

Prince Harry, in written testimony filed to the High Court on Tuesday, said that the British tabloids had taken great pleasure over the years in knocking him down, time and time again.

Royals are cast in specific roles by the tabloids, he wrote. "You’re then either the ‘playboy prince,’ the ‘failure,’ the ‘drop out’ or, in my case, the ‘thicko,’ the ‘cheat,’ the ‘underage drinker,’ the ‘irresponsible drug taker,’ the list goes on."

Harry wrote that he had been drawn into a downward spiral, in which the tabloids would coax him into doing something stupid that would make a splashy story.

A look at some of the tabloid coverage of Harry's life:

The Nazi uniform. In 2005, The Sun ran a photograph of Harry, then 20 years old, wearing a Nazi uniform with a swastika armband at a costume party under the headline "Harry the Nazi." Harry later apologized. In the Netflix documentary about him and his wife, Meghan, that they released last year, he said that dressing up as a Nazi was "one of the biggest mistakes of my life."

Getting naked in Las Vegas. The tabloid news media frequently published photographs showing Harry tumbling out of some of the most expensive nightclubs in London and around the world, but a 2012 story was particularly lurid. "Prince Harry put the crown jewels on display in Vegas this weekend," TMZ reported along with photos of the naked prince taken during a game of strip pool in his hotel suite at the Wynn hotel. Harry commented five months later, saying: "I probably let myself down," TMZ reported.

Harry's Afghanistan tours. The prince, who served in the British Army from 2005 to 2015, had to cut short his tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2008 after another soldier tried to sell photos of him at this secret frontline posting to The Sun. The Sun didn't publish the photos at the time, because it and other outlets had an agreement with the Defense Ministry that they would not publish information indicating that Harry was on tour. Harry was stationed in Afghanistan again for several months from late 2012 to early 2013.

Harry's former girlfriends. Before he married the American actress Meghan Markle in 2018, Harry's two longest relationships were with Chelsy Davy, a Zimbabwean entrepreneur, whom he dated on and off from 2004 to 2010, and the actress Cressida Bonas from 2012 to 2014. The tabloids chronicled intimate details of Harry's relationships, including details that Harry says journalists could have gotten only through hacking or other illicit means. In an article with the headline "Chelsy Davy Dumps Prince Harry," The Mirror reported in 2009 that Ms. Davy had broken up with Harry over "a tearful phone call," telling him, "It's over."

When Harry met Meghan. In 2016, soon after Harry and Meghan starting dating, The Daily Mail published an article headlined "Harry's girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed — so will he be dropping by for tea?" Another referred to what it called her "exotic DNA." Meghan continued to come under frequent criticism by the British tabloids, prompting Harry to issue a letter to the news media calling out the "racial undertones" of their coverage of her. "It is no secret that I have had, and continue to have, a very difficult relationship with the tabloid press in the U.K.," he wrote in testimony.

Megan Specia

In one piece of his testimony today, Prince Harry's split from the rest of the royal family in his approach to the tabloids is clear.

Questioned about why he has taken this case against the Mirror Group, Harry says that his early conversation with lawyers focused on how to "somehow find a way to put the abuse, intrusion and hate that was coming toward me and my wife to a stop," through a legal route "rather than relying on the Institution's way."

Megan Specia

The cross-examination of Prince Harry has ended, and his lawyer, David Sherborne, has again taken the floor for his final arguments. It appears that the prince's testimony may end before the lunch break, which will happen soon.

Megan Specia

The lawyer for the Mirror Group has now finished exploring the last of 33 articles submitted by Prince Harry's team in his claim against the news outlet, indicating that the cross-examination may come to a close before a break for lunch.

Megan Specia

Prince Harry has been asked by their lead lawyer, Andrew Green, why he hasn't sued other papers that published his private details. He said he "didn't believe there was industrial-scale phone hacking" at some of the other papers.

But, he added, "I am quite busy with other litigations as well, my lord," a nod to his other legal cases against separate publishers on what he argues have been unlawful practices.

Megan Specia

As the defense's lawyer focuses on a story about a date between Harry and Caroline Flack, a prominent British television presenter, Harry said he had been "stalked for over a decade" by paparazzi photographers.

"This evening was strictly between myself and Caroline, who is no longer with us," Harry said pointedly. Ms. Flack killed herself in February 2020, and her family has said that relentless tabloid attention hurt her mental health.

Megan Specia

Harry has mostly been incredibly measured through the now more than six and a half hours of questioning today and yesterday, but his patience has at times seemed to flag.

In one instance, regarding a story about Harry's being banned from a second tour of Afghanistan, he poses his own questions to the defense's lawyer, Andrew Green, who is grilling him.

"This isn't about you asking me questions — this is about me asking you questions," Mr. Green replies frankly.

Megan Specia

After a short break, the defense lawyer picks up with the last few articles that Prince Harry's team submitted in their complaint, beginning with another article about his relationship with Chelsy Davy.

Megan Specia

"This to me was incredibly suspicious," Prince Harry said of a picture published in the Sunday Mirror in 2007 that showed him dropping off Ms. Davy near Kensington Palace in London: "she had spent the night with me, I was dropping her off as close as I could to Kensington High Street, and to know there was a photographer there waiting."

Mark Landler and Megan Specia

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, are plaintiffs in no fewer than seven cases against the British tabloids and other news media organizations for phone hacking and other violations of their privacy.

As the cases make their way through the legal system, Harry's visits to Britain are now as likely to be tied to courtroom dates as to royal ceremonies like the coronation of his father, King Charles III, which he attended last month.

Before the coronation, the last time Harry, who left Britain in 2020, came to the country was in March to appear in court, alongside the pop star Elton John, in a case against the publisher of the Daily Mail on charges of tapping his cellphone. He is also suing Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers for hacking and other privacy violations.

For Harry, who now largely supports himself, the litigation has been expensive and time-consuming. People who know him say he did not expect, when he brought the suits, that they would take so many years. Fighting the tabloids has not helped his image in Britain, where his popularity has already been tarnished by his bitter split with his father and older brother, William.

But the court appearances give him a platform to press what he has cast as one of his life's missions: curbing the excesses of the tabloids, which he and Meghan have accused of upending people's lives "for no good reason, other than the fact that salacious gossip boosts advertising revenue."

Megan Specia

Harry says he accepts that some details in the Mirror articles that his team claims were likely reported through unlawful means previously appeared in some other papers. But he pushes back on other details.

"A lot of these quotes were attributed to friends," he said of one of the articles about turbulence in his relationship with Chelsy Davy. "But by this point, Chelsy and I were not sharing anything with anyone."

Megan Specia

If nothing else, this testimony makes clear the impact that the tabloid speculation about his private life has had on Prince Harry. At one point he mentions an article that implied that people were celebrating the apparent end of his relationship with Chelsy Davy — which he said "seems a little bit mean."

Megan Specia

Later, Prince Harry said that a headline appeared to celebrate his breakup, adding, "It was hurtful, to say the least, that such a private moment was turned into a bit of a laugh."

He also denounced payments made by the Mirror Group around this coverage, referred to as "Project Harry."

"The surveillance I was under was quite disturbing," he said.

Megan Specia

If the court were to find that Prince Harry had not been hacked by Mirror Group journalists, the defense lawyer pointedly asks him, "Would you be relieved or disappointed?"

"I believe that phone hacking was at an industrial scale across at least three of the papers at the time and that was beyond a doubt," Harry responded, adding later that he would "feel some injustice" if his claim "wasn't accepted."

Megan Specia

"So you want to have been phone hacked?" the defense lawyer asked.

"Nobody wants to have been phone hacked, my lord," Harry said forcefully.

Stephen Castle

On Tuesday, Prince Harry told a court in London that journalists in sections of the British press had "blood on their hands." And on Wednesday, some of those publications’ coverage of his court testimony showed that the dislike is mutual.

"Harry's 5 Bruising Hours" was the headline in the online edition of the Daily Mail, which painted a picture of a witness repeatedly failing to respond to the detailed questions he was asked in court.

"Ultimately, what emerged from his historic first day in court is, I would venture, a man who is oddly insubstantial and simply cannot admit he is wrong, even when presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary," wrote Jan Moir, a columnist for the tabloid. She called the prince's inability to answer detailed questions "astonishing," and wrote that "the prince's level of truculence seemed to rise as the day progressed."

Given that the prince wants Britain to impose tighter curbs on its news media, which he argues is unaccountable, he probably did not expect favorable reporting about his day in court from the tabloids. That is just as well.

The Mirror, the defendant in the case, had little to say about Harry's testimony on its website. But its rival, The Sun, quoted a response from Piers Morgan, the television presenter — and former Mirror editor — whom the prince had singled out for criticism in the case.

"When asked what he thought of the duke's accusations," wrote the Sun, referring to the cross-examination of Harry by Andrew Green, a lawyer for the defense, "Piers sarcastically said: ‘I didn't see it, but I wish him luck with his privacy campaign — look forward to reading it in his next book.’"

Some more upmarket publications also concluded that Prince Harry had performed poorly in court, including The Daily Telegraph, whose royal editor, Victoria Ward, wrote of him: "He appeared out of his depth — I’m not sure he even realized he was being set up to skewer himself or that, to the onlookers in court, it did not appear to be going well."

Megan Specia

Even more than an examination of the particular articles that Harry and his legal team are presenting as evidence of unlawful activity, this case is a reminder of the troubling tabloid tactics, often illegal, used against him and other members of the royal family — as well as celebrities and crime victims in the early 2000s. Many were first exposed when widespread phone hacking was revealed at that time.

Megan Specia

The defense is now referring to a News of the World article about a voicemail that Prince William left Harry in 2005 in which William imitated the voice of Chelsy Davy, Harry's now former girlfirend. That article, which is not part of this case, was eventually used as evidence to prove the prior hacking by reporters from that now-defunct newspaper.

Megan Specia

The defense lawyer also highlighted other News of the World articles linked to voicemail interception. A police investigation at the time looked into whether the princes and those close to them had been hacked, and the defense is now using the fact that no Mirror journalists were arrested then to make the case that no hacking was linked to the articles submitted in this case.

Megan Specia

The first article being explored today focuses on a knee injury that Harry had while at Sandhurst military college. The defense's lawyer, Andrew Green, points to other stories with similar information published before the one in Mirror Group's "The People" that Harry's team has taken issue with.

Megan Specia

Prince Harry maintains that the People article included additional information.

"I have no idea how anybody would know," he said of some of the published details about his communication with his girlfriend at the time, Chelsy Davy. "I believe that the Mirror Group had Chelsy's number at this time."

Megan Specia

He also testified that his personal phone number had been in the PalmPilot of a Mirror journalist known to have engaged in phone hacking. Harry said that articles published at the time about his personal life were "distressing" then, and "even more distressing sitting here and having to go through them again today."

Megan Specia

Prince Harry has just entered the courtroom for his second day of testimony and is set to be cross-examined shortly by lawyers for the Mirror Group. He heads directly to the witness stand.

Megan Specia

The lawyers will pick up where they left off yesterday, examining some of the 33 articles that Harry and his team say show evidence of unlawful activity.

Megan Specia

The defense's lawyer, Andrew, Green dives right in. "Price Harry, we are now on to the 22nd article," the lawyer begins. "Good morning, Mr. Green," Prince Harry interjects.

Megan Specia

Court is scheduled to begin in 20 minutes, and we can again expect hours of cross-examination of Prince Harry, which may last past the lunch break. His lawyers will also again have a chance to provide testimony.

Megan Specia

Interestingly, Jane Kerr, a formal royal editor for the Mirror, is scheduled to provide testimony today. She is one of only two journalists from the news group who will appear in court, a point that has been made repeatedly by Harry's legal team.

Megan Specia

Harry and his lawyers have repeatedly said that the Mirror Group reporters and editors behind the stories in question are the only ones who can explain where the sensitive information came from. Without a clear explanation, Harry's lawyer said, the judge can infer that it came via unlawful means.

Megan Specia

The few members of the public who have risen early each day to secure a space in the courtroom for Prince Harry's lawsuit are a mixed bunch. Some are super fans, others are interested in the legal process, and still others simply found themselves traveling through London this week and came for a look.

But the landscape outside is dominated by the press rather than the public, with photographers scrambling on ladders for the best shots of King Charles III's younger son when he arrives today.

Megan Specia

The line is growing outside the High Court in central London, where Prince Harry is due to take the stand shortly after 10:30 a.m. local time for his second day in court.

He was cross-examined for five hours yesterday by Andrew Green, the lead lawyer for the Mirror Group, and is expected to have another marathon of questioning today.

Stephen Castle

Follow our updates as Prince Harry resumes his testimony.

Prince Harry spent nearly five hours on the witness stand on Tuesday airing his longstanding grievances against Britain's famously unbridled tabloid press.

It was Harry's first day testifying in the lawsuit that he and three other claimants have brought in London against Mirror Group Newspapers, which he has accused of long waging war on his family's privacy, including through phone hacking.

His testimony is to continue on Wednesday. Here are the highlights from Day 1.

That may come as little surprise. His fight with the tabloids had been underway for years, after all, so we knew where Harry was coming from. But lest there be any doubt, on Tuesday he had this to say about reporters and editors in a written witness statement: "How much more blood will stain their typing fingers before someone can put a stop to this madness."

He characterized their behavior as "utterly vile" and "criminal," and elaborated on the impact on him personally, saying, "their actions affected every area of my life." The tabloid coverage, he said, had spurred "bouts of depression and paranoia." And to pursue his legal case, he said, he was "forced to relive a horrific period in my life."

The last time a royal was cross-examined in a British courtroom is believed to have been 1891, but that does not appear to be fazing Harry. He kept his cool and his focus, and handled tough questions with poise.

"Would it be right to say you have a longstanding hostility toward the press because of its intrusion into your life?" he was asked at one point early in the hearing. "Yes, that is correct," Prince Harry replied. Despite intense grilling from the Mirror Group's lawyer, Andrew Green, Harry came across as soft-spoken, measured, precise and unwilling to be drawn into speculation. At one point he looked toward the judge, intensity clear on his face and in his voice, as he spoke of the distress these stories had caused.

In his witness statement, Harry complained that royal family members are cast in preordained roles by the tabloids. "You’re then either the ‘playboy prince’, the ‘failure,’ the ‘drop out’ or, in my case, the ‘thicko,’ the ‘cheat,’ the ‘underage drinker,’ ‘irresponsible drug taker,’ the list goes on," he wrote.

This persona came to overshadow his life, he said. Whenever he entered a room, he "was facing judgments and opinions based on what had been reported about me, true or not." When he was younger, he said, he "expected people to be thinking, ‘He's obviously going to fail this test, because he's a thicko.’"

Even when the news was positive, such as when he passed a military assessment, there was a sting in the tale. "It feels like the tabloids were looking to find any way to build me up and then knock me down at every chance they had." Press intrusion, he said, was "the main factor" for the end of his relationship with Chelsy Davy, a former girlfriend. More recently, he said, he and his wife, Meghan, have "been subjected to a barrage of horrific personal attacks."

The British tabloids need to be held accountable, Harry said. "My view is: How can anybody possibly trust a media organization that enjoys the liberties of free press, when their own legal people and board covers up the truth?" he asked. "Even the police and the government are scared to hold them accountable or seek justice against them. They can truly believe they are above the law," he said.

Discussing the specific breaches at the center of the lawsuit, Harry pointed to details cited in a litany of articles that he suggested could be explained only by phone hacking or other forms of illegal news gathering. He recalls how his whereabouts was suspiciously well known by paparazzi, including when he went to meet Ms. Davy at the airport or visited a nightclub. He recalled how sometimes the voice mail symbol on his phone would vanish before he had a chance to listen to the message, and how friends would ask him whether he had heard voice mail messages he had never seen.

The publisher contends that the prince has provided no solid proof of phone hacking. Some of the articles in question were published before the prince had a phone, argued its lawyer, who told Prince Harry that however much sympathy there was for him over the troubling press intrusion, "it doesn't necessarily follow from that that it was the result of unlawful activity."

Mr. Green spent much of Tuesday examining the stories Prince Harry had cited, pointing to other possible explanations for how detailed information became known to reporters — including tipoffs, information from friends or aides, other press reports or just official statements from Buckingham Palace.

The lawyer even cited "Spare," the prince's own memoir, in an attempt to refute Harry's claim that a story about his drug taking may have come from unlawful means. Referring to the book, Mr. Green argued that the details included in at least one story may have come from Buckingham Palace "playing ball" with the tabloid press, using his own words against him.

Years before he stepped down from his official duties, Harry was worried that his place in the royal family was being undermined. In his witness statement, he cited articles based on a rumor that his biological father was James Hewitt, a former a cavalry officer and lover of Princess Diana.

At the time, he wrote, he "wasn't actually aware that my mother hadn't met Major Hewitt until after I was born," and he called the reports "hurtful, mean and cruel." But he also added: "I was always left questioning the motives behind the stories. Were the newspapers keen to put doubt into the minds of the public so I might be ousted from the royal family?"

In a different vein, it emerged from the testimony that the press is not the only British institution Harry holds in disdain. The prince appears to be no fan of the current British government, which is led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. "At the moment," Harry wrote, "our country is judged globally by the state of our press and our government — both of which I believe are at rock bottom."

Megan Specia contributed reporting.

Mark Landler

To fully prevail in his case, Prince Harry will have to convince the judge, Timothy Fancourt, that Mirror Group Newspapers hacked his cellphone to intercept his voice mail messages, as well as using other unlawful means to gather information. Proving hacking could be a high bar, given that more than a decade has passed since the Mirror articles Harry cites were published.

In a filing, lawyers for Harry wrote that he had often experienced "suspicious" activity on his cellphone, including missed calls or hangups, from numbers that he did not recognize or that were concealed. He also recalled listening to voice mail messages that appeared in his inbox but were not listed as new messages. But the lawyers said he could not recall specific dates on which this activity occurred, given the passage of time.

The Mirror denies hacking Harry's phone, or those of the three other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, although it admitted in 2014 that it had hacked other public figures. It has acknowledged other types of unlawful information gathering, without specifying what they were, and said that they warranted some compensation to Harry and the other plaintiffs, although it is not clear what any restitution would be.

Lacking hard evidence of hacking, Harry's lawyers are relying heavily on inference. They have submitted as evidence 147 articles published by Mirror tabloids that contain information they claim could have been obtained only through illegal means because of the intimate nature of the material or because only a small circle of people knew about it. But the Mirror Group's lawyers counter that the details in those articles could have come from other legitimate sources.

Beyond the question of proof, the Mirror Group contends that Harry waited too long to file the lawsuit, noting that the misconduct was said to have occurred from 1991 to 2011. In Britain, privacy claims must generally be made within six years.

Jenny Gross

Much of Harry's case against Mirror Group Newspapers focuses on leaked details about his relationship with his former girlfriend Chelsy Davy, a Zimbabwean entrepreneur whom he dated on-and-off from early 2004 until mid-2010.

In written testimony filed to the High Court in London on Tuesday, Harry said his and Ms. Davy's phones were repeatedly hacked while the two were dating. Harry and Ms. Davy, who were mostly in a long-distance relationship, would speak frequently by phone. Newspaper articles routinely mentioned private conversations between them that Mirror journalists would have not have been able to obtain other than through illicit means, he said.

Many of Harry's accusations relate to tabloid coverage of his breakup with Ms. Davy, who is now married and named Chelsy Yvonne Cutmore-Scott. One article that he cites as evidence said that Ms. Davy gave him "a tongue-lashing down the phone" for flirting with another woman at a party. The details about their phone communications were not attributed to any sources, Harry said in the written testimony.

A second article described "an emotional phone call" in which Ms. Davy asked Harry for a trial separation. In another, a journalist reported that Harry had "slammed the phone down" on his father, Charles, after an argument about Ms. Davy.

"I trusted Chelsy with the most private of information," he said in the statement. He remembered frequently seeing missed calls that he later came to believe were a sign of hacking.

Harry also said that he was at a "complete loss" as to how private details were obtained of his and Ms. Davy's vacations off the coast of Mozambique, and that journalists and photographers would arrive at their hotel even before they did. He said the two of them were never on their own, away from "the prying eyes of the tabloids," which badly strained their relationship and was "the main factor" in why they decided to end it.

"We could also never understand how private elements of our life together were finding their way into the tabloids, and so our circle of friends became smaller and smaller," he said. "I remember finding it very hard to trust anyone, which led to bouts of depression and paranoia," adding that he regrets cutting friends out of his life because he feared they had been sources of leaks.

Lawyers for the publisher have argued that most of Harry's claims related to articles published from 1991 to 2011 and lie well beyond the six-year time limit that generally applies to legal complaints of privacy violations. One of the company's lawyers, Andrew Green, also said in court on Tuesday that "there was no need for the Daily Mirror journalists to use unlawful means" because information about Harry had been published by other news outlets, an assertion that Harry challenged.

The New York Times

Before Prince Harry took the stand to answer questions in his lawsuit against Mirror Group Newspapers on Tuesday, his legal team filed a written statement to the High Court in London that lays out his version of the facts of the case.

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