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Prince Harry Testifies Against British Tabloids

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The British tabloids need to be held accountable, Harry said. “My view is how can anybody possibly trust a media organization, that enjoys the liberties of free press, when their own legal people and board covers up the truth?” he asked. “Even the police and the government are scared to hold them accountable or seek justice against them, they can truly believe they are above the law,” he said.

Discussing the specific breaches at the center of the lawsuit, Harry pointed to details cited in a litany of articles that, he suggested, could be explained only by phone hacking or other forms of illegal news gathering. He recalls how his whereabouts was suspiciously well known by paparazzi, including when he went to meet Ms. Davy at the airport or visited a nightclub. He recalled how sometimes the voice mail symbol on his phone would vanish before he had a chance to listen to the message, and how friends would ask him if he had heard voice mail messages he had never seen.

The publisher contends that the prince has provided no solid proof of phone hacking. Some of the articles in question were published before the prince had a phone, argued its lawyer, who told Prince Harry that however much sympathy there was for him over the troubling press intrusion, “it doesn’t necessarily follow from that, that it was the result of unlawful activity.”

Mr. Green spent much of Tuesday examining the stories Prince Harry cited, pointing to other possible explanations for how detailed information became known to reporters — including tipoffs, information from friends or aides, other press reports or just official statements from Buckingham Palace. The lawyer even cited “Spare,” the prince’s own memoir, in an attempt to refute Harry’s claim that a story about his drug taking may have come from unlawful means. Referring to the book, Mr. Green argued that the details included in at least one story may have come from the palace “playing ball” with the tabloid press, using his own words against him.

Years before he stepped down from his official duties, Harry was worried that his place in the royal family was being undermined. In his witness statement, he cited articles based on a rumor that his biological father was James Hewitt, a former a cavalry officer and lover of Princess Diana. At the time, he wrote, he “wasn’t actually aware that my mother hadn’t met Major Hewitt until after I was born,” and he called the reports “hurtful, mean and cruel.” But he also added: “ I was always left questioning the motives behind the stories. Were the newspapers keen to put doubt into the minds of the public so I might be ousted from the Royal Family?”

In a different vein, it emerged from the testimony that the press is not the only British institution Harry holds in disdain. The prince appears to be no fan of the current British government. which is led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. “At the moment,” he wrote, “our country is judged globally by the state of our press and our government — both of which I believe are at rock bottom.”

Megan Specia contributed reporting.

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