The Daily Mirror’s British publisher apologized for one instance of snooping on Prince Harry but denied his other claims on Wednesday, as a trial for one of Harry’s phone hacking lawsuits began, with the prince’s lawyer accusing the newspaper of unlawfully gathering information on “an industrial scale.”
However, the revelation that the publisher hired a private investigator for a 2004 story titled “Sex on the Beach with Harry” may only provide the Duke of Sussex with a taste of gratification. Because the story in issue was not one of the almost 150 that Harry claims were the result of skulduggery, the revelation may have minimal influence on the verdict.
The charges stem from a controversy involving journalists and private investigators who intercepted voicemails in order to obtain information on members of the royal family, politicians, athletes, celebrities, and even crime victims. It progressed from a low-tech hack of entering in default passwords in the early days of voicemail to the use of deception to obtain medical records, tap phones, and bug homes.
Mirror Group Newspapers denied hacking phones to intercept voicemail messages for Harry and the three others, claiming they had filed their claims more than six years ago.
However, in court documents describing its defense, the publisher admitted “some evidence of the instruction of third parties to engage in other types of UIG (unlawful information gathering).” It stated that The behavior “justifies compensation,” but no details were provided.
“MGN unreservedly apologizes for all such instances of UIG, and assures the claimants that such conduct will never be repeated,” according to the court documents.
The corporation stated that its apology was not made to reduce damages, but rather “because such conduct should never have occurred.”
The first of the duke’s three phone hacking claims to go to trial, the case threatens to accomplish something he and his family have long feared: put a royal on the stand to confront embarrassing revelations.