- By Dominic Cassiani & Oliver Slow
- BBC News
The Duke of Sussex has accused journalists of illegal intrusion into his private life for ending his relationship with Chelsy Davy.
In a witness statement, Prince Harry said Ms Davy had decided „royal life was not for him” following repeated harassment.
The claims emerged in a case brought by several high-profile figures in the High Court against Mirror Group newspapers.
MGN denies allegations of voicemail interception in lawsuits
It also said that some cases are beyond the statutory time limit.
Ms Davy and Prince Harry were in an on-off relationship between 2004 and 2010.
In a summary of her witness statement, the Duke’s lawyers alleged the illegal activity had „caused major challenges” to the relationship and led Ms Davy to conclude „royal life was not for her”.
It also included journalists booking into a hotel on Pasaruto, a small island off the coast of Mozambique, where Harry and Mrs Davy sought to escape to „enjoy some peace and quiet”, the document said.
Prosecutors also said mobile phone call data to be used at the trial showed Ms Davey was the target of voicemail interception between 2007 and 2009.
He said the actions caused him „huge distress” and „very real safety concerns not only for me but for everyone around me”, adding that they also created „a huge amount of paranoia” about future relationships.
„Every time he was in a relationship, or even a rumored relationship, that person’s entire family, and often their friends, would be 'dragged into the fray’ and exposed to illegal action on the part of MGN,” the lawyers said. .
Prince Harry’s lawyers allege his mobile phone number was recorded on a mobile device belonging to „Sunday Mirror reporter and head of news” Nick Buckley.
The prince is expected to allege he experienced voicemail interception in retrospect in relation to 30 people he had close relationships with.
He is expected to testify in June – the first time a senior royal has testified in court in modern times.
MGN did not admit any wrongdoing, although it said it „apologises unreservedly” for the illegal collection of information against Harry and said the legal challenge brought by the prince „warrants compensation”.
The article referred to an incident in February 2004 in which an MGN journalist instructed a private investigator to illegally gather information about Harry’s activities on a night at a Chinatown nightclub – not one of the claims the prince brings.
In written submissions, MGN’s barrister Andrew Green Casey said the publisher denied that 28 of the 33 articles in Harry’s claim involved phone hacking or other illegal information gathering.
He said the stories came from various other sources – including other members of the royal family.
Mr Green added that it was „unacceptable” that five of the 33 articles contained illegal data collection.
Other celebrities have made claims against MGN, with „test cases” – including Prince Harry – selected for trial from a wider pool of claimants.
They include former Coronation Street actress Nicky Sanderson, comedian Paul Whitehouse’s ex-wife Fiona Whiteman and actor Michael Turner – who plays Kevin Webster in Coronation Street and goes by his stage name Michael Le Well. All are expected to testify during the six- to seven-week trial.
The court heard Ms Sanderson felt she was a „public asset” and suffered abuse on the street following „false incitement” in articles published by MGN.
„[She had] „People shouted at her in the street as 'slut’, 'scum’ or 'slut’ and on several occasions she was physically assaulted,” barrister David Sherborne said.
Mr Turner was accused by co-stars of being a „mole” amid the phone hacking, the court heard.
It focuses on what senior executives at MGN knew about phone hacking, including TV presenter Piers Morgan, who was editor of the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004.
Mr Sherborne told the court that between 1991 and 2011 the illegal collection of information was habitual and widespread at three papers – the Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People.
He described it as an „illegal flood”, adding that „the flood was sanctioned and authorized by senior executives”.
The barrister also accused executives of misleading the Leveson inquiry – an inquiry into the press’s practices, culture and ethics – something it denies.
In written arguments, Mr Sherborne said it was „inconceivable” that Mr Morgan and other editors were unaware that MGN journalists were instructing private investigators to obtain information.
“Proper and Widespread Use of PIs [private investigators] MGN journalists were authorized at senior levels to illegally obtain private information,” said Mr Sherborne, representing Duke.
Mr Morgan has denied any knowledge of phone hacking or illegal activity at the Daily Mirror while he was editor.
MGN has previously settled several claims regarding stories obtained through illegal means.
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