Prince Harry gets emotional during court testimony, says wiretaps were “too much”

Prince Harry was emotional in court as he concluded an eight-hour testimony in his lawsuit against a leading British newspaper publisher, admitting he would feel an “injustice” if the judge dismissed his wiretapping claims.

Asked by his lawyer what the experience of giving evidence had been like, the Duke of Sussex became emotional and, after a long pause, said “it’s too much.”

“For my whole life, the press misled me, covered up wrongdoing and sitting here in court knowing that (the defendants have) the evidence in front of them and for (opposing counsel) Mr. Green to suggest that I’m speculating… I’m not sure what to say about that,” the duke said.

Prince Harry testifies in wiretapping case against British media outlets
The flash of emotion came at the end of the testimony – the first by a senior royal since 1891 – which spanned two days and touched on extensive coverage of Harry’s childhood, teenage years and 20s.

The duke is suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), accusing its incumbents of wiretapping and using other unlawful means to gather information about his life between 1996 and 2009.

Green, MGN’s lawyer, pressed Harry on Tuesday on the details of his wiretapping allegations, saying that “there is not a single item of call data at any time” between Harry’s phone and any Mirror Group journalist.

“If the court were to find no evidence of wiretapping, would you be relieved or disappointed?” Green challenged the duke during a tense exchange toward the end of the two-day cross-examination.

“That would be speculating, I’m not sure whether I would be relieved or disappointed,” Harry replied. The duke told the court that he undoubtedly believes the wiretapping was on an “industrial scale” in “at least three documents,” so he added that it would be an “injustice” if his claim was unsuccessful.

“Do you want your phone hacked?” asked Green, to which the duke replied, “No one would want their phone hacked.”

Harry at times appeared nervous and uncomfortable during cross-examination, but gained confidence as the session progressed, sparring at times with Green and answering his own questions to the lawyer.

Overall, the prince alleges that about 140 articles belonging to Mirror Group contained information gathered by illegal methods. Thirty-three of those articles were considered at trial and discussed in detail by Green and the prince.

On Tuesday, Harry told the court that “every article has caused me distress.”

He added Wednesday that an article titled “Hurray Harry’s been dumped,” which reported on the end of his relationship with Chelsy Davy, was “hurtful.”

The 2007 story “seems to suggest that people are celebrating” the end of the relationship, Harry said, adding that “it’s a bit cruel.”

He added that on another night, when he went to dinner with the late TV presenter Caroline Flack, he “was so shocked and furious” to discover that two photographers from the IKON Pictures agency were already hiding under a car, “waiting for us to arrive.”

Harry said Flack “was always of great interest to the tabloids, they often hounded her.” The “Love Island” host committed suicide in 2020 while awaiting trial for alleged assault, in a case that had sparked intense media interest.

After a brief cross-examination by his own lawyer, David Sherborne, Harry’s stretch on the witness stand came to an end Wednesday afternoon. Sherborne then began cross-examining former Daily Mirror royal editor Jane Kerr, the author of some of the stories under consideration.

The courtroom saga is unprecedented in modern times; a high-ranking royal has not given evidence in court since Harry’s great-great-grandfather, the future King Edward VII, took the stand over a baccarat game gone wrong in the late 19th century.

But Harry has been unapologetic in his efforts to force reform on the British tabloids, which he has long insisted subjected him to intrusion and ruined many of his personal relationships.

The trial began on May 10 and is expected to last seven weeks.

MGN is contesting most of the allegations, arguing in its court papers that some claims were filed too late and that in all four cases there is insufficient evidence of wiretapping.

In court documents released last month, the publisher apologized for a case of illegal information gathering nearly 20 years ago. That incident involved a private investigator, who was paid 75 pounds (US$95) in 2004 by Sunday People, a tabloid owned by the same group, to gather information about the Duke of Sussex while he was in a London nightclub.

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