Queen ‘approved threatening News International with legal action’

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  • April 26, 2023
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Prince Harry’s legal team have listed 208 articles about him in The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World which his lawyers claim were as a result of private information being unlawfully gathered.

The stories’ headlines and reporters’ names were included in court documents as part of a legal action by the Duke of Sussex, who is suing the publications’ owners – News Group Newspapers (NGN) – over alleged phone hacking, including listening to private voicemail messages.

NGN is bringing a bid to have Harry’s case thrown out, along with a similar claim by actor Hugh Grant, at a three-day hearing in London which started on Tuesday, arguing they have been brought too late.

Prince Harry pictured at the Royal Courts of Justice in March. Pic: AP

The court documents show:

• A transcript of an alleged intercepted phone message in 2006 from his brother Prince William to Harry claiming to be his former girlfriend Chelsy Davy

• Harry said in a February 2018 email to Buckingham Palace that an apparent lack of response by the newspapers’ publishers – formerly known as News International – over phone hacking claims was making the “institution” [Royal Family] look “ineffective and weak”

• Harry questioned if News International journalists should be allowed “into Windsor” [Castle] for his wedding to Meghan Markle in May 2018 “if it isn’t resolved”

• Harry said “there needs to be an ultimatum otherwise this institution and everything it stands for becomes a laughing stock”

• Another email from the palace said the Queen approved threatening News International with legal action

• The prince’s lawyers claim Harry has “suffered considerable distress, as well as the loss of his dignity or standing, and his personal autonomy, as a result of the misuse of his private information by NGN”

Growing frustration of Harry laid bare in court documents

We’ve heard Prince Harry’s arguments, now we’ve seen his evidence. The Duke of Sussex has publicly released private emails, from those at the heart of the late Queen’s household.

Reading the email trail between Harry and the palace, you get a sense of his growing frustration.

He wants an apology, and the emails show the Queen gives her consent to threatening tabloid executives with legal action.

But still nothing happens, and in the following months there is a significant shift. Despite the Queen consenting to using lawyers, Harry’s father tells him to drop all his claims.

Harry claims this is to prioritise positive stories about him and Camilla. It’s something we’ve heard Harry talk about before.

In his memoir, Spare, Harry says he was sacrificed on Camilla’s “personal PR altar”.

He also recalls how his father, describes his battle with the press as a “suicide mission”.

We now know Prince William settled, out of court, his phone hacking case with the publishers of The Sun and News of the World.

But what we’re seeing with Harry is the opposite. He wants his day in court, he wants to hold senior executives to account. And he’s prepared to say and show as much as he can to expose what he alleges is their “criminal activity”.

According to the court documents, the first of the 208 articles was published on 6 January 1996 and was headlined “Diana: I’ll take my time Ma’am; Exclusive!”

Harry’s lawyers claim it contained private information about the prince’s “personal life and in particular, his health and details of a skiing accident”.

Also included are articles about his “education and professional life” and “details about his relationship with Chelsy Davy”.

Harry’s former girlfriend Chelsy Davy pictured in 2011

The 208th article listed was published by The Sun on 1 November 2016 and was headlined “Smitten Harry bombarded Meghan with texts until he got a date”.

His lawyers claim the story contained private information concerning his “personal life and in particular the fact that he had ‘inundated’ and ‘besieged’ Ms Markle with text messages and also details of and the frequency of their dates”.

In February 2018, Harry sent an email to the-then palace communications director Sally Osman about the hacking claims against News International

When Ms Osman replied there had been no response, he said the ‘institution’ was looking ‘ineffective and weak’

A month later, Ms Osman emailed to say she had the Queen’s consent to use legal action

In the 2006 William phone message to his brother, a male speaker puts on a female voice, lapsing into normal voice.

The male speaker says: “Hi, it’s Chelsy here. I just want to say I miss you so much, and I think you’re the most – best-looking ginger I’ve ever seen – although you really are quite ugly for a ginger, but hope you’re having a lovely time – I really miss you. It’s lovely out here in Africa, and hopefully I’ll see you very soon, you big, hairy fat ginger. Anyway, speak to you later. Bye.”

According to Harry’s lawyers, the audio transcript of the voicemail was seized from a private investigator’s home.

His legal team claimed around that time there had been a number of suspicious calls from the investigator to Harry’s mobile.

Read more:

Harry’s claim about William settling hacking case is awkward for Royal Family

Harry’s barrister David Sherborne has alleged the duke’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, had her calls and messages intercepted by NGN.

He claimed that articles taken from 1994 and 1995 demonstrated that NGN journalists and paparazzi working on their behalf “had inside knowledge” of where Diana was going to be.

And the phone calls of the King and Queen Consort were intercepted by the publisher of The Sun in the 1990s, the prince’s legal team alleges.

Mr Sherborne alleged that NGN was intercepting phone calls and messages, as well as obtaining itemised phone bills of Charles and Camilla.

Articles allegedly published as a result between 1994 and 1995 include stories in The Sun from August 1995 with the headline “Heir to the Phone” and “The Midnight Caller”.

Earlier this week, Harry’s lawyers said Prince William settled a phone hacking claim against Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper group in 2020 for a “very large sum”.

NGN has previously settled a number of claims since the phone hacking scandal broke in relation to The News Of The World, which closed in 2011, but has consistently denied that any unlawful information gathering took place at The Sun.