Prince Harry has returned to his family in California after several days of testimony in a lawsuit against UK tabloids over hacking that centered on travel.
Prince Harry Testifies Intimate Travel Details Published In UK Tabloids Only Available Via Hacking
On Sunday, Prince Harry flew commercial from Los Angeles to London, arriving on Monday morning…one day late for his trial, in which Harry became the first time a British Royal to testify in open court for more than a century (Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Prince Albert Edward, was the last to do so in 1891). The judge was not happy he missed the first day of court, for which Harry’s attorney blamed on the birthday of his Harry’s daughter Lilibet. She turned two on June 4th.
The Duke of Sussex is suing tabloids including The Mirror, The Sun, and The Daily Mail for what he claims is hacking. This week, he alleged that The Mirror Group unlawfully accessed his mobile phone and email between 1996 and 2011 in order obtain personal information that it could not possibly have gathered absent such malicious action.
For example, tabloids published his travel plans even though the Palace had withheld them for security reasons:
As I have said previously, details of my travel plans, including dates I would be flying, were not released by the Palace for security reasons, yet the specific date I would return to Britain was published days in advance.
Harry further alleged that tabloids also knew intimate travel-related details about his relationship with Chelsy Davy to a degree that only hacking would have made it possible:
Other details reported included that I was understood to have spoken to my father about my relationship with Chelsy before taking on the helicopter training, that Chelsy was planning to return to South Africa to do corporate law there, and that we had scrapped plans to travel to South Africa together after New Year, after having rows while we were away in Mauritius.
Referring to a 2007 story about Harry being late to pick up Davy, the Duke of Sussex testified:
This short article, which was published on page 9 of the Daily Mirror, has several photographs of me and Chelsy at Heathrow Airport. It includes photographs of Chelsy both before and after airport security, after she had just landed in London from South Africa. It reports that I had gone to the wrong terminal to collect Chelsy, which meant I was an hour late to meet her.
This story is true. My PPO [protection officers] had got the terminal wrong, and I was late to meet Chelsy. I wasn’t worried about her reaction, but I was worried about her safety for the reasons I discuss earlier in this statement. I knew if she had come through customs, she would have to wait in the public arrivals area and would get swarmed by the paparazzi who always seemed to know our travel plans, another ‘coincidence’ I could never understand given the security measures in place and the fact we kept these details to ourselves as far as possible.
Although, according to the caption of the photographs in the article, photographs of her were taken whilst she was still moving through passport control and security. I don’t understand how. When I arrived, we ended up swarmed by photographers, trying to go up the stairs with some in front of us, some of them behind us, following and bumping into us all the way to the car. It was suffocating, in the airport you’re just trapped and all that after a long flight. I’m not even sure how the Defendant’s journalists would have known I was at the wrong terminal as I hadn’t left the car, so no one would have seen me, but I probably would have said this to Mark Dyer over the phone or in a voicemail.
You can read his entire witness statement here.
The case now sits on the bench, awaiting a ruling from Mr. Justice Fancourt.
Yesterday afternoon, Prince Harry returned to his family in California, again via a commercial flight. Specific flight details were not available; it is not clear if he continued his trend of flying American Airlines or British Airways.
Prince Harry flew to London to contend that intimate travel details could only have been ascertained by hacking. He is hoping not only for a handsome financial gain from this case, but a precedent that puts restraint on the British press from invading his life and the life of those around him. A verdict is excepted later in the year.
image: Northern Ireland Office