Prince Harry’s trial against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) has continued this week with one of his fellow claimants giving evidence.
Harry is one of four celebrities claiming that the publishing company’s employees sourced articles about them through means of unlawful information gathering (UIG).
These unlawful means include the hacking of phones and the commissioning of private investigators to ‘blag’ confidential information, like financial and medical records.
So far, Prince Harry, actress Nikki Sanderson and Fiona Wightman — the ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse — have completed their evidence.
Today, the final of the four test claimants, Michael Turner — the Coronation Street actor who goes by the stage name Michael Le Vell — testified.
Le Vell alleges he was targeted by MGN from 1995-2011 and presented articles from across the period published in the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Mirror and The People as being the product of UIG
He also claimed that the publishing company hacked his phones when he was arrested for child sex abuse in 2011. The actor was found not guilty of all 12 charges at a trial in 2013.
Regarding a Daily Mirror article from 2011 headlined 'I am lost for words but I will clear my name' Le Vell wrote in his witness statement: "I remember seeing this article (and other articles that followed) and wondering how the press got hold of this information.
"What I found so strange was that the information was accurate and totally on the money. This was an incredibly difficult period of my life, and the only people I was confiding in at the time were my close friends and family.
"I remember at the time looking at my friends and wondering who had leaked this information which was incredibly upsetting.
"I was blaming every Tom, Dick and Harry for what I thought were leaks to the newspapers. This caused me huge distress at the time, as I was so worried that the newspaper articles were causing damage to my reputation and prejudicing my defence to a very serious charge."
Le Vell added: "To find out that, as my world was falling apart, MGN’s journalists and photographers were falling over themselves to dig up information and photographs about me makes me furious.
"Knowing what I know now, I think it is absolutely disgusting that MGN’s journalists were hacking into my voicemail messages as such a traumatic time in my life.
"It represents a total invasion of my privacy. It makes me so angry. Whilst ITV were brilliant at supporting me, I was at my lowest point. The Defendant only wanted to capitalise on this."
MGN has said in a statement in response to the allegations: "Where historical wrongdoing has taken place, we have made admissions, take full responsibility and apologise unreservedly, but we will vigorously defend against allegations of wrongdoing where our journalists acted lawfully.
"MGN is now part of a very different company. We are committed to acting with integrity and our objective in this trial is to allow both the business and our journalists to move forward from events that took place many years ago."