Prince Harry hurt by ‘mean’ headlines celebrating his break-up with Chelsy Davy, phone-hacking trial hears

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  • June 7, 2023
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rince Harry hit out at “hurtful” and “disturbing” news reports about the break-up of his relationship with Chelsy Davy, telling the High Court he believes journalists were celebrating the split.

A Sunday Mirror report from 2007 under the headline ‘Hooray Harry’s Dumped’ covered the news that the Duke had visited a nightclub to “drown his sorrows” over the break-up.

Harry said he later discovered the story had been pursued with the codename “Project Harry”, an “incredibly disturbing” payment had been made for information, and he believed his distress had been used for entertainment.

“Such a private moment was turned into a bit of a laugh”, he said,

“The headline does seem to suggest people celebrating that I had broken up with my girlfriend which seems a little bit mean.”

Harry, who is suing the Mirror Group Newspaper over alleged phone hacking and unlawful newsgathering, has put forward this Sunday Mirror story as one of 33 examples of alleged wrongdoing.

“I’m not sure how anyone would know we had broken up because we weren’t talking about that”, he said, suggesting his phone and that of Ms Davy had been targeted.

When challenged by MGN barrister Andrew Green KC that ‘Hooray Harry’ was a nickname he had attracted, the Prince insisted the headline was “celebrating (him) being dumped”.

“If it had been used before or not, for me as the subject or victim of this, to see that word used in this term is hurtful”, he said.

A second day of bombshell evidence at the High Court has seen Harry:

– Deny claims of ‘cavorting’ at Twickenham with a female friend

– Confirm reports he got a lapdance, but deny it was from a Chelsy Davy lookalike

– Accuse photographers of wrecking his relatinship with Caroline Flack

The court has heard evidence of Harry’s 2006 trip to the Spearmint Rhino club in central London, where he reportedly received a lap dance.

Harry appeared to accept a Lithuanian dancer had sat on his lap, but disputed The People’s claim that a “statuesque blonde” resembling Ms Davy had been paid for a nude dance.

“That’s factually incorrect”, he said.

The Prince accepts someone from the club appears to have been paid for information by The People, telling the court: “That’s what I would do as a journalist.” But he said he finds other payments “suspicious” and evidence of suspected unlawful newsgathering.

“It’s a classic example of stories originating from a different paper, the Mirror and everyone else being one step behind, and encourage to go and find out more information.

Harry says he believes a detail in the story, that Ms Davy had admonished him for the night out in a 30-minute call, came from journalists “bizarrely” having her phone number and unlawfully accessing call data.

Prince Harry denied “cavorting” with a female friend of Princess Catherine during a rugby match at Twickenham, as claimed in a 2009 news report.

He said he and Astrid Harbord are only friends, telling the court: “Astrid and I were never in a relationship.”

Calling the article “not true”, he added: “It was in public, but I wasn’t cavorting.”

And Harry discussed his relationship with the late TV presenter Caroline Flack, who he dated for a few weeks in 2009.

The Prince said he was “shocked and livid” when a private night with Ms Flack and his friend Marko Dyer became a target of paparazzi photographers.

He accused picture agency IKON pictures of stalking, including an incident when photographers were found hiding under a car, and said the poker night incident led to distrust among friends.

“Only Marko, Caroline and I knew of the plans, there was only a couple of other people invited and I don’t think they knew that Caroline would be joining us”, he said.

“Given the fact only the three of us knew the plan, I was highly suspicious and convinced someone had leaked the information to the press. I was angry. I hadn’t told anybody.

“I obviously doubted Caroline, but I even came to distrust Marko. My brother and I stopped talking to him for a while as we just couldn’t understand how stories about us meeting privately with him ended up in the papers, or how photographers would end up outside his apartment.

“I now believe this information had come from our voicemails – mine, Marko’s or Caroline’s. The impact these kinds of stories had on my relationships cannot be underestimated. Even those I trusted the most, I ended up doubting.”

Starting his second day of evidence, Prince Harry said he lost his trust in staff at Sandhurst military academy after details of his medical treatment ended up in a tabloid newspaper.

The Duke of Sussex’s army training was delayed by a knee injury, with details of the issue ending up in a 2005 article in the People newspaper.

Harry said he had not been “freely discussing” the injury, and he believes the People’s story had been the product of hacking or unlawful newsgathering.

“I was not going around freely discussing any medical issues or injuries that I had. I was almost conditioned to feel guarded at this point in my life, worrying I couldn’t trust anyone for fear that it would end up splashed across the tabloids”, he said.

Harry told the court newspaper coverage led to “distrust I ended up having at Sandhurst with the medical staff”.

The People’s news story also made reference to 15-minute email sessions Harry had at Sandhurst with his then-girlfriend Chelsy Davy, including quote from another unidentified source that Harry “always came back with a smile on my face”.

“I’d only been at Sandhurst a couple of weeks by this point, and while I can’t remember the specifics of how often I was speaking to Chelsy over email at this time, I wasn’t sharing this information with my colleagues – who I’d only just met – least of all because that kind of thing would have made me seem soft, but also because me and Chelsy were so protective of our relationship and wanted people to know as little as possible for fear of ‘leaks’.”

Challenged over the source of the article, Harry insisted he believes phone hacking was involved.

Prince Harry has taken the witness stand for the second day of High Court evidence in his phone hacking trial.

The Duke of Sussex, 38, is in the midst of a legal assault on the tabloid press, accusing newspapers of hounding him throughout his life and breaking the law in pursuit of exclusives.

Harry arrives at court on Wednesday to give evidence for a second day at his phone-hacking trial

/ REUTERS

In the historic first day of evidence in a trial against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), Harry talked of his fears and paranoia when private details of his relationship with Ms Davy hit the headlines.

On a trip to Mozambique, he found reporters already checked in to the same hotel that he was staying it, while he was “disturbed” to learn journalists and photographers had been “hunting” him as he enjoyed a gap year break on the sunshine coast of Noosa in Australia.

Harry said women he dated ended up “not just in a relationship with me but with the entire tabloid press as the third party”, and he detailed a frightening incident at Heathrow Airport where “burly and dodgy looking” paparazzi had discovered he was meeting Ms Davy off a flight.

“I realised that MGN journalists were blagging her flight details so that would know exactly when she was going to arrive”, he said.

“The paparazzi would be so aggressive in their pursuit of her that we would have to enlist the help of the airport police, which obviously detracts from their main task of keeping the airports, and the general public who use them, safe.”

He said he was devastated when his on-off relationship with Ms Davy ultimately ended, as she “made the decision that a royal life was not for her”.

Harry was facing further tough questions on Wednesday from MGN’s barrister, Andrew Green KC, over stories about his military career and the breakdown of his romance with Ms Davy. The publisher argues stories came from other legal sources rather than phone hacking.

The Prince is represented by barrister to the stars David Sherborne, who counts Meghan Markle and Princess Diana as past clients, and recently emerged victorious from the Wagatha Christie High Court battle where he was Coleen Rooney’s lead counsel.

Mr Sherborne is expected to put further questions to Harry before his stint giving evidence draws to a close.

David Sherborne arrives at court on Monday

/ AFP via Getty Images

Harry made a string of bombshell comments during his first day of evidence at the Rolls Building of the High Court, in a case before Mr Justice Fancourt.

Together with two soap stars and a comedian’s ex-wife, the Duke is suing MGN over allegations of phone hacking and unlawful newsgathering spanning nearly two decades.

Harry says he was subjected to intrusion into his private life from the age of 11, he has lost friends due to paranoia and distrust, and has suffered bouts of depression while under the global media spotlight.

In evidence on Tuesday, the Prince suggested tabloid journalists and editors have “blood on their hands” over the relentless pursuit of the rich and famous for news stories.

“Trolls react and mobilise to stories they create”, he said. “People have died as a result, and people will continue to kill themselves by suicide when they can’t see any other way out. How much more blood will stain their typing fingers before someone can put a stop to this madness.”

He took aim at Rishi Sunak’s government, calling it “rock bottom”, and said it is his personal mission to rid journalism of unlawful elements for the good of British society.

“Democracy fails when your press fails to scrutinise and hold the government accountable, and instead choose to get into bed with them so they can ensure the status quo”, he said. ”I feel there’s a responsibility to expose this criminal activity in the name of public interest.”

Harry denied past claims of drug-taking at the Highgrove home of his father, King Charles, and took aim at Royal correspondents for allegedly inventing quotes and sources.

His personal animosity towards Piers Morgan came to the fore over allegations the former Daily Mirror editor knew about phone hacking and illegal targeting of his mother, Princess Diana.


The Duke of Sussex: Prince Harry at High Court hearing for phone hacking claims

In letters written shortly before her death, Diana told TV presenter Michael Barrymore she was “devastated” the Mirror had found out about their private friendship, adding: “Nobody knew about our conversations/phone call.”

Harry told the court: “The thought of Piers Morgan and his band of journalists earwigging into my mother’s private and sensitive messages…and then having given her a “nightmare time” three months prior to her death in Paris, makes me feel physically sick and even more determined to hold those responsible, including Mr Morgan, accountable for their vile and entirely unjustified behaviour.”

The Duke endured tough questioning from Mr Green, who pointed out that a number of stories Harry believes were the result of phone hacking or unlawful newsgathering were follow-ups to exclusives in other newspapers, contained official Palace quotes, and in one instance appeared to emanate from an interview he himself had given.

MGN says there is no direct evidence to support Harry’s allegations, but the Prince countered that phone records have been destroyed amid a “cover-up” of wrongdoing.

He pointed to payments between journalists and private investigators suspected of unlawful activity, saying the stories contained private details which was “deeply suspicious”.

Mr Green also read back to Harry extracts of his own autobiography, Spare, to highlight alleged contradictions with his High Court evidence.

The trial continues.