Prince Harry Flames British Tabloids After Phone Hacking Case Win: ‘Slaying Dragons Will Get You Burned’

The Duke of Sussex used his victory to call for a “free and honest press” and prosecution for journalists who break laws

Prince Harry (Credit: Getty Images)
Prince Harry (Credit: Getty Images)

Prince Harry used his victory in a lawsuit against the British tabloid publisher Mirror Group Newspapers to take the British press to task and demand prosecution for journalists who break the law.

“Today is a great day for truth, as well as accountability,” The Duke of Sussex said in a statement read by his lawyer outside court after he was awarded $180,000 in damages in a case against the Mirror Group newspapers, according to multiple reports.

Calling the victor “vindicating and affirming,” Harry said, “I’ve been told that slaying dragons will get you burned. But in light of today’s victory and the importance of doing what is needed for a free and honest press, it is a worthwhile price to pay. The mission continues.”

High Court Justice Timothy Fancourt ruled that reporters from the Mirror Group participated in “extensive” phone hacking from 2006 to 2011, and editors at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People knew about it.

Among those editors was Piers Morgan, who served as editor of the Daily Mirror from 1996 to 2004. He was called out by the judge for doing nothing to stop the “widespread” unlawful behavior, Reuters reported. Morgan became a fierce critic of Harry and his wife, former “Suits” actress Meghan Markle, once the couple stepped down from their royal duties in 2020 and moved to California, in part to escape the hounding of the British press.

“This case is not just about hacking, it is about a systemic practice of unlawful and appalling behavior, followed by coverups and destruction of evidence,” Harry’s lawyer, David Sherborne read from his statement, MSNBC reported. He pointed to the responsibility of senior management “such as Piers Morgan” who “clearly knew about or were involved in these illegal activities.”

“Between them, they even went as far as lying under oath to parliament during the Leveson inquiry, to the stock exchange and to us all ever since,” he continued.

It was the first of four lawsuits against the British tabs to go to trial, The Associated Press reported. The younger son of King Charles was the first senior British royal to take the stand in court for 130 years when he testified in June, Reuters noted.

Fancourt found that phone hacking was “widespread and habitual” for years at the Mirror Group, evidenced by his determination that 15 of 33 stories examined in the trial were produced using information gathered illegally. He also found that the company used private investigators as “an integral part of the system” to unlawfully gather information on Harry, now 39.

The judge awarded the damages to compensate for Harry’s distress and aggravated damages to “reflect the particular hurt and sense of outrage” over the fact that two directors at the company knew about the illegal activity and failed to stop it, AP reported.

“My commitment to seeing this case through is based on my belief in our need and collective right to a free and honest press, and one which is properly accountable when necessary,” Harry said in the statement read by his lawyer. “That is what we need in Britain and across the globe.”

In addition to the Mirror Group, Harry has brought similar cases against Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, and News Corp’s News Group Newspapers, the publisher of the Sun.

He further called for U.K. authorities “to do their duty for the British public and investigate bringing charges against the company and those who have broken the law.”

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