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Prince Harry says Piers Morgan ‘knew perfectly well what was going on’ as he settles Mirror hacking claim | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker | #hacking | #aihp

In December, Mr Morgan accused the Duke of wanting to bring down the monarchy and said he “wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped him around his California-tanned face”.

He branded the King’s younger son “ruthless” and “greedy”, adding: “He demands accountability for the press but refuses to accept any for himself for smearing the Royal family, his own family, as a bunch of callous racists without producing a shred of proof to support those disgraceful claims.”

Prince Harry sued MGN in October 2019 over 148 articles he alleged had been obtained illegally. Giving evidence during the seven-week trial last year, he revealed that he was motivated by a desire to protect his wife, Meghan.

Mr Justice Fancourt found that phone hacking was “widespread and habitual” at the publisher’s three titles from 1998 and remained “extensive” from 2006 until 2011, “even to some extent during the Leveson Inquiry”.

He said two MGN directors Sly Bailey, chief executive, and Paul Vickers, group legal director, knew about hacking but “turned a blind eye” and did not inform the board.

But he warned that Prince Harry’s “tendency to assume” that all stories written about him were obtained illegally was misplaced.

He also criticised the Duke for using his witness statement as a vehicle to advance “an argument against the vicissitudes of the press” rather than keep to factual evidence relating to his claim, noting that it “did not remotely comply” with professional guidelines.

Judge concerned over hacking claims 

The Duke’s claim was heard alongside those brought by Coronation Street actor Michael Turner, known as Michael Le Vell, actress Nikki Sanderson and Fiona Wightman, the ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse.

The claims brought by Ms Sanderson and Ms Wightman were dismissed because they were made too late. Mr Turner was awarded £31,650 in damages after his case was “proved only to a limited extent”.

Mr Justice Fancourt ruled on Friday that Ms Sanderson and Ms Wightman should pay MGN the costs of defending their individual claims.

He said Mr Turner should pay costs incurred by the publisher in responding to his claim from March 5 2022, when a settlement offer was made.

The judge expressed concern about the way that such hacking claims were being pursued.

He warned that pleadings and witness statements were being “maximised” with scant regard for reality, stating what was needed to advance the claim, rather than what could actually be recalled.

He also criticised the failure to attempt to resolve such claims without trial, warning there was no justification for claimants to “sit tight” rather than negotiate in the hope that something might eventually turn up to support their “more outlandish claims”.

Ms Sanderson’s claim was so “misleading and exaggerated” that the judge suggested the court lay down a marker for the consequences in preventing quick and fair resolution.

Celebrities seek £1.9m payment

Meanwhile, MGN was ordered to pay the “generic” legal costs of all those currently involved in the litigation after the claimants successfully proved illegal conduct.

Other celebrities involved in the case include former Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy, the estate of the late singer George Michael, ex-footballer and television presenter Ian Wright and actor Ricky Tomlinson.

The final costs figure is yet to be assessed but the court heard that the group was seeking payment of around £1.9 million towards the legal costs of bringing those allegations to court.

Last month, it emerged that the Duke faced an estimated legal bill of £750,000 after abandoning a libel claim against the Mail on Sunday concerning an article about his demand for taxpayer-funded security.

Separately, he has been given permission to continue his hacking case against the publisher of the Daily Mail, which denies wrongdoing. His claim against News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun and News of the World, is due to go to trial next year.

Responding to its settlement with the Duke, an MGN spokesman said: “We are pleased to have reached this agreement, which gives our business further clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago and for which we have apologised.”

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