Allegations of ‘suspicious’ articles in Duke of Sussex statement

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The Duke of Sussex put forward a number of “suspicious” articles in The Sun in a witness statement made as part of his claim against the newspaper’s publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) over allegations of hacking.

He said in the statement: “Given that NGN still to this day denies that unlawful activity ever took place at The Sun, I just wanted to highlight several articles published in The Sun that I feel particularly strongly about and which demonstrate the kind of unlawful activities which I have only discovered through being able to pursue my own claim.”

He said these included 17 allegedly suspicious articles concerning his mother – Diana, Princess of Wales – and claimed private pager messages between her and art dealer Oliver Hoare were accessed by The Sun, as well as references to trips and holidays she would be going on with him and William.

He said the articles also included information about the care arrangements for her children following her separation and divorce from the now-King.

I find this disgusting, immoral and a complete abuse of power and of journalistic privilege,” he said in the statement.

“There is zero public interest justification. I find it horrific that my brother and I, as children, were put under constant 24-hour surveillance just so The Sun could sell more newspapers for profit.

“It also proves that my mum wasn’t paranoid after all, she was quite right.

“This sort of unlawful activity including phone tapping/hacking made her distrust her protection officers as she thought they were leaking private information about her, which I believe is one of the reasons she insisted on not having any protection after the divorce – as I am told by the institution.

“If she’d had police protection with her in August 1997, she’d probably still be alive today.

“People who abuse their power like this need to face the consequences of their actions, otherwise it says that we can all behave like this.”

Harry said articles about himself and former girlfriend Chelsy Davy had allegedly come from unlawful activity, including calls made to her phone in 2004.

He said: “Seeing all this evidence only now is infuriating. To know we were being tracked, bugged and hacked while trying to have a private relationship, just so NGN could print a story and sell a newspaper, is mind-blowing.

“Methods that should, at best, be reserved for proper investigative journalism that looks into public interest stories were being used on normal, innocent people, and for what?

“Those responsible should be locked up in my view as there is zero justification and it is, frankly, criminal.

“Any claim or suggestion senior staff weren’t aware of what their employees/journalists were doing is obviously a lie.”

Harry’s statement concluded: “When I think about the fact that senior executives at NGN not only knew about and condoned phone hacking as a practice at both the News Of The World and The Sun, but also actively sought to cover it up by the deliberate concealment and destruction of evidence on an industrial scale, my immediate thoughts are that this makes them criminals, not journalists, and the Fourth Estate is too important and rightly powerful to have criminals masquerading as journalists running the show.

“They have lied under oath, perjured themselves in the process and have proven they’re above the law.

“Everyone seems to be scared of them, especially politicians. These criminal practices go right to the very top, and without accountability, change and justice, what does that signal to the public who are mostly unaware of the scale and damage caused due to the never ending cycle of out of court settlements in this litigation?

“If my claim was to be struck out, NGN would be getting away with it again.

“They’re proven liars and destroyers of evidence. That would be bad enough if it was anyone, but this was done by our most influential and powerful journalists who run the most popular newspapers and websites.

“If things had changed post-Leveson (Inquiry) then perhaps I’d feel differently, but they haven’t.

“In fact, it’s only gotten worse, just in a different and more obvious way through bigotry and racism that affects far more people.

“This isn’t just about phone hacking, this about accountability of power.

“Power that informs but is being used to brainwash people. They have created a stalemate society, where they can enrage the public over the most mundane and petty things, to distract from the critical issues for our country and communities.

“In short, the people and the newspaper organisations who hack people’s voicemails, including even those of victims of crimes and families of those who lost their lives serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan, have never been brought to justice, and are now more emboldened because of it.

“They believe they can do anything they want and get away with it, while making huge sums of money from it.

“If they’re supposedly policing society, then who is policing them?

“Furthermore, my claim shouldn’t be struck out as this is the first time I’ve been able to bring it on account of the secret agreement in place between the institution and senior executives at NGN, and seeing as though I’ve started it, I should be allowed to finish it – especially as my brother’s claim was so easily and quietly settled with NGN in 2020.

“As a final thought, I do not believe it can possibly be just or fair to allow NGN, whose senior executives authorised the concealment and destruction of evidence on an industrial scale, to succeed on a strike out application on the basis of a claim being out of time when the vast majority of the evidence supporting the claim has only just come to light, or to allow it to renege on a valid agreement so it can avoid having to face the biggest claim against it (with the most blatant and damning evidence of unlawful behaviour) in court and in front of the world’s media, with the huge reputational damage that that will no doubt cause.

“It is time for real journalism to report on the actions and decisions of our tabloid press.

“It is quite clear that NGN and its boss will go to any lengths to try and protect its top executives from meeting justice, in the same way that happened to some of the relatively junior employees at the News Of The World, and it should not be allowed to succeed.”

Harry, 38, is suing the publisher over alleged unlawful information gathering at The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World, claiming that his private information was unlawfully accessed from as early as 1994 to as late as 2016.

While NGN has settled numerous hacking claims in relation to the News Of The World, the publisher denies illegal activity at The Sun.

On Tuesday, lawyers for the publisher began a bid to have Harry’s claim thrown out – along with a similar claim by actor Hugh Grant – on the basis they have been brought too late.

The hearing, before Mr Justice Fancourt, is due to continue on Wednesday and Thursday.

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