British justice rules in favor of Prince Henry in the press wiretapping affair | International

Prince Harry, 39, has won a sweet victory in his long and heated battle against the British tabloids. Magistrate Timothy Fancourt of the High Court of England and Wales ruled on Friday that journalists from the Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), owner of the Daily Mirrorhe Sunday mirror and the magazine Sunday people, illegally obtained information about the young prince between 2003 and 2009, by hacking his telephone communications, using private investigators or using deception techniques. The judgment, which found in favor of Enrique in 15 of the 33 cases he reported to British justice, condemns MGN to pay the Duke of Sussex compensation of more than 160,000 euros, or a third of the half million he demanded.

The judge’s decision was greeted as a victory in its own right by the prince’s legal team, even though in its text it devalues ​​and puts into context many of the exaggerated accusations made against the British press. “I think his cell phone was hacked in a fairly small way and the operation was carefully controlled by a specific group of people at each newspaper. But it is true that this happened on certain occasions between the end of April 2003 and April 2009 – the date of the last article that I examined,” specifies the magistrate. “There is a tendency for the Duke, when giving his evidence, to assume that whatever was published about him was the result of his phone’s voicemail being intercepted, because hacking was a widespread practice in the group Mirror at that time. But it was not the only journalistic tool at the time, and its claims regarding the other 18 alleged cases do not stand up to careful analysis,” says Fancourt.

Prince Henry, who then traveled to London to appear in court in two tense sessions that totaled more than eight hours on the stand, was the lead plaintiff in a trial in which other parties also sought compensation to the press of the alleged victims. The actor Michael Turner, known as Michael Le Vell, much appreciated for his participation in the legendary soap opera Coronation Street, obtained a favorable decision for four of its 27 requests and compensation of nearly 37,000 euros. The two other plaintiffs, actresses Nikki Sanderson and Fiona Wightman, had their cases dismissed by the judge.

MGN immediately issued a public statement of apology, faced with a more than predictable sentence, but which, in its opinion, controls possible damages and puts a certain end to a dispute that has followed them for years. “We welcome the decision, which provides the (journalism) industry with the clarity needed to continue moving forward regarding events that occurred many years ago. Where historical poor practices occurred, we unreservedly apologize, take full responsibility and have paid appropriate compensation,” the group said.

The trial, which received worldwide media attention and concluded in June, lasted seven weeks. Dozens of witnesses, including journalists who participated in the reporting of those years, such as the famous Piers Morgan, who led the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004, as well as private detectives and press managers, gave their version of particularly troubled years for the British tabloid press.

“The press has been hostile to me since I was born”

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“From the beginning, it was a downward spiral, where the tabloids constantly tried to frame me and portray me as a troubled young man, until they managed to get me to do something stupid that would make me a good story and would sell a lot of copies,” Prince Henry wrote in your request. “When I look back, I understand that it was absolutely bad behavior,” he concluded. “The press targeted me has been hostile since my birth”, he summarized, in a text which contained the same accumulation of resentments, childhood traumas and unresolved stories that the second son of Charles of England and Lady Di had already anticipated in the autobiography. Spare (In the darkPlaza & Janés).

The lawsuit against the owners of the Daily Mirror This is the first in a series of three lawsuits filed by the Duke of Sussex against British tabloids. The conviction, both in its basis and in the moderation of the sanction, may constitute an important precedent for subsequent cases. But beyond its punitive dimension, it represents a personal victory for Prince Henry against the black beast – the journalists who persecuted his mother, Diana Spencer, himself and his brother William for years – which he has been fighting in recent years. years, now from its Californian headquarters. exile.

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