Prince Harry, one of several high-profile celebrities suing Associated Newspapers Ltd. in the U.K., has filed a witness statement claiming the Royal Family excluded him from conversations about allegations of phone tapping and other privacy violations.
The Duke of Sussex, who was present in court both Monday and Tuesday this week, said the restricted information from the Palace caused him paranoia and put a strain on his personal relationships.
Buckingham Palace has not commented publicly on the prince’s allegations.
Prince Harry, alongside singer Elton John, actors Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost and others, are suing Associated Newspapers over claims their personal information was illegally obtained by the company and published in numerous Daily Mail stories.
The case alleges Associated Newspapers, which publishes titles including the Daily Mail, commissioned the “breaking and entry into private property,” engaging in unlawful acts that included hiring private investigators to bug homes and cars and record private phone conversations. The lawsuit also alleges Associated Newspapers hacked private voicemail systems and obtained personal credit card statements.
Associated Newspapers has denied all wrongdoing. The company called the allegations “preposterous smears.”
Prince Harry, 38, claimed he was only made aware of allegations against Associated Newspapers in 2018 after he sought legal counsel beyond the Royal Family. He argued the Royal Family and their advisory staff had “without a doubt” kept him in the dark.
“Following the death of my mother in 1997 when I was 12 years old and her treatment at the hands of the press, I have always had an uneasy relationship with the press,” Prince Harry wrote in his witness statement.
He argued he was made to adopt the Palace’s “never complain, never explain” philosophy for interacting with the media.
“There was no alternative; I was conditioned to accept it. For the most part, I accepted the interest in my performing my public functions.”
Prince Harry asserted he is “determined to hold Associated accountable, for everyone’s sake.”
“I am bringing this claim because I love my country and I remain deeply concerned by the unchecked power, influence and criminality of Associated,” he continued.
This week, Associated Newspapers, owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, attempted to have the case thrown out because the claims are too old and rely on information the company turned over in confidentiality for a separate 2012 probe into media lawbreaking. (Prince Harry said in his witness statement the Palace did not want him to participate in this lawsuit for fears his testimony could “open up a can of worms.”)
Prince Harry lambasted Associated Newspapers’ attempt to have the case dismissed.
He wrote in his statement: “Unfair is not a big enough word to describe the fact that Associated is trying at this early stage to prevent me from bringing my claim.”
“If the most influential and popular newspaper in the UK can evade justice without there being a trial of my claims, then what does that say about the industry as a whole and the consequences for our great country,” he questioned.
Harry, the younger son of King Charles III, and his wife, the former actor Meghan Markle, stepped down as working royals in 2020 and moved to the U.S., citing what they described as the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media.
Harry has said he wants to make reforming the British media his life’s work. He fumes at the U.K. media throughout his memoir Spare, published in January. He blamed an overly aggressive press for the 1997 death of his mother, Princess Diana, and also accused the media of hounding Markle.
The couple has turned to British courts to combat what they see as media mistreatment. In December 2021, Meghan won an invasion-of-privacy case against Associated Newspapers over the Mail on Sunday’s publication of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.
Harry is also suing the publisher of another tabloid, the Mirror, in a separate hacking suit.
— With files from The Associated Press
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