The case was one of four selected as tests, to help the court set the level of damages for similar claims.
Harry said the ruling was “vindicating and affirming,” according to a statement read by his lawyer outside the court. He also called on police and prosecutors to “do their duty for the British public and to investigate bringing charges against the company and those who have broken the law.”
Prince Harry testifies in court about tabloid intrusion ‘since I was born’
In a statement, the Mirror Group Newspapers said it welcomed the judgment making it possible to “move forward” from events that took place long ago. “Where historical wrongdoing took place, we apologise unreservedly, have taken full responsibility and paid appropriate compensation.”
Harry was not there to hear the verdict on Friday. But in June, he became the first high-ranking British royal in 130 years to testify in court, arguing that Mirror Group Newspapers used unlawful information gathering to dig up dirt on him. He testified over two days.
Harry alleged that journalists at Mirror Group Newspapers’ titles — the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People — knew information about him that could have only been discovered through unlawful activity. His lawyers submitted 148 newspaper articles, dating from 1996 to 2010, but the trial only considered 33 of those.
In his witness statement, Harry wrote that the alleged illegal snooping had fostered an environment of distrust within his circle of friends and family. He wrote that he could now see “how much of my life was wasted on this paranoia.”
The judge on Friday ruled that editors had been aware of what was going on. There was “compelling evidence that the editors of each newspaper knew very well that [phone hacking] was being used extensively and habitually and that they were happy to take the benefits of it,” Fancourt wrote in his judgment.
The judge also said “there can be no doubt” that Piers Morgan, a high-profile media figure and frequent critic of Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, knew that voice mail hacking provided material for stories while he was editor of the Daily Mirror.
Morgan has always denied involvement. Speaking to journalists outside his home on Friday, he repeated that he “never hacked a phone or told anyone else to hack a phone.” He said he had not been asked to “provide a statement” to the court, and therefore was “not able to respond” to accusations from “old foes with an ax to grind.” He noted that the court identified only one article about Harry from his tenure as editor where unlawful practices may have been involved.
Morgan added that Harry “wouldn’t know truth if it slapped him in his California-tanned face.”
Speaking earlier outside of the High Court, Harry’s lawyer David Sherborne read a statement on behalf of the prince.
“I’ve been told slaying dragons will get you burned. But in light of today’s victory and the importance of doing what is needed for a free and honest press — it’s a worthwhile price to pay,” the statement said. “The mission continues.”
Harry has made it clear that he is on a quest to change Britain’s unruly tabloid media. He has repeatedly taken British tabloids to court and has two other lawsuits against media companies that are working their way through British courts.
In his autobiography, “Spare,” Harry wrote extensively about the hounding he endured from the press, first as a child when his mother, Princess Diana, was constantly in the public eye and then later as an adult and member of the royal family.
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