Piers Morgan ‘lies at the heart’ of claims in opposition to the Mirror, Prince Harry trial instructed

Former Mirror editor Piers Morgan “lies at the heart” of allegations of illegal information-gathering on the newspaper firm, the High Court trial introduced by Prince Harry and different celebrities has heard.

On the trial’s second day, the Duke of Sussex’s lawyer outlined the complaints in opposition to Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), which embody alleged telephone hacking and using personal investigators.

Alongside the duke, Coronation Street actors Nikki Sanderson and Michael Le Vell, and comic Paul Whitehouse’s ex-wife Fiona Wightman have been chosen by the choose as “test cases”. If profitable, the court docket may then think about claims by singer Cheryl, ex-footballer Ian Wright and actor Ricky Tomlinson.

Piers Morgan instructed ITV reporters on Wednesday that he was ‘not going to take lectures on privacy invasion’ from Prince Harry


David Sherborne, for Harry, instructed the court docket on Thursday that one of many “most seriously troubling features” of their circumstances was the allegation that these liable for administration and funds of the corporate “were well aware of what was going on”.

“Even people you would expect to be ensuring honesty … [were] themselves so bound up in this wrongdoing,” he mentioned. “It’s no wonder it was so widespread … At all levels, the defendant’s organisation was concealing unlawful activity because it was well aware of how damaging it was.”

In written submissions, Mr Sherborne continued: “It is inconceivable that this information, which was readily available on MGN’s system, was not known by the editors, Piers Morgan, Tina Weaver and Mark Thomas, the managing editors, and the legal department … and the board.

“Despite that, neither the legal department nor the board took any action to prevent the continued use of such techniques by MGN journalists.”

Mr Sherborne insisted Morgan was “at the heart of” claims in opposition to the writer, which apologised to Harry on Wednesday over an occasion involving a personal investigator however contests the opposite claims.

Prince Harry is concerned in quite a lot of circumstances in opposition to newspaper publishers


“What we have, we say, is the direct involvement of Morgan in a number of these incidents,” the lawyer mentioned. “Morgan lies right at the heart of this in a number of ways. He was a very hands-on editor, also very closely connected to the board.”

Outlining one of many greater than 200 articles – printed between 1991 and 2011 – that are reported to be included within the criticism, Mr Sherborne alleged {that a} front-page Mirror article in 1999, which claimed Prince Michael of Kent was in £2.5m debt to a financial institution, had been “obtained illegally”.

Noting that Morgan had been Mirror editor on the time, Mr Sherborne continued: “The story had been published with sufficient confidence in the face of a denial from Prince Michael himself.”

Upon the prince elevating a authorized criticism in opposition to MGN, Morgan had mentioned the allegation got here from “an impeccable source who has an intimate knowledge” of the royal’s funds, Mr Sherborne mentioned.

Prince Michael of Kent was the topic of a entrance web page Mirror story introduced up in court docket on Thursday


He added: “Morgan, and the MGN lawyers he consulted before writing this letter, knew full well that the information had been obtained unlawfully and that the criminal law had in fact been breached, and the ‘impeccable source’ they referred to was in fact [private investigator Jonathan] Rees.”

MGN later settled Prince Michael’s declare, agreeing to publish an apology and pay his authorized prices, Mr Sherborne mentioned.

The writer’s lawyer Andrew Green KC accused the movie star claimants of creating “serious allegations” of dishonesty with authorized arguments that “are far from adequate”.

“The claimants have not provided any direct evidence of a member of the board or legal department making a false or dishonest statement,” he mentioned. “By contrast, MGN has provided witness evidence from board members, which the claimants are in no position to gainsay, denying any such knowledge.

There is no attempt to confine the allegations to specific board members or time periods. Rather, scattergun allegations are apparently made against every member of the board serving over 20 years, and no clear or specific inferential basis is particularised.”

Mr Green mentioned MGN’s authorized division “generally did not know about journalists’ sources but rather its lawyers were consulted where journalists considered it necessary”.

More usually, he accused the 4 movie star claimants of offering “barely any evidence” for his or her “extraordinarily wide claims”, whereas arguing that some circumstances have been introduced too late.

Later on Thursday, the Mirror’s writer instructed the High Court the Duke of Sussex didn’t have an “expectation of privacy” over a report he was allegedly punished by the King for dressing up as a Nazi.

In the doc put into the case by the writer’s attorneys, the court docket heard that one of many articles in Harry’s declare, printed within the Sunday Mirror in February 2005, mentioned that the duke had been made to do farm work by Charles – the then-Prince of Wales – after sporting a Nazi uniform at a celebration.

Mr Green additionally denied the main points within the article had been sourced unlawfully or by means of telephone hacking.

On Wednesday, the BBC printed an interview with Morgan filmed in March, by which he addressed a number of the claims raised in Thursday’s listening to.

“I never hacked a phone, I wouldn’t even know how, he told presenter Amol Rajan. “There’s no evidence I knew anything about any of this, I never told anybody to hack a phone.”

The trial continues.

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