The Government is at “rock bottom”, the Duke of Sussex has said in his High Court claim against the Daily Mirror’s publisher.
Harry is suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for damages, claiming journalists at its titles, which also include the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, were linked to methods including phone hacking, so-called “blagging” or gaining information by deception, and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.
In his witness statement in support of his claim against the publisher, Harry said he is bringing the case “not because I hate the tabloid press or even necessarily a section of it, but in order to properly hold the people who have hijacked those privileges, which come with being a member of the press, to account for their actions”.
He later criticised the state of British journalism and the present Government as both being at “rock bottom” in the statement dated February of this year.
The duke said: “Because they have showed no willingness to change, I feel that I need to make sure that this unlawful behaviour is exposed, because obviously I don’t want anybody else going through the same thing that I’ve been going through on a personal level.
“But also, on a national level as, at the moment, our country is judged globally by the state of our press and our Government – both of which I believe are at rock bottom.”
The duke added that “democracy fails” if the press does not scrutinise the Government and hold them to account “and instead choose to get into bed with them so they can ensure the status quo”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that comments made by Harry were part of a “live legal case” and he would not be commenting.
He said: “I think you have heard repeatedly from the Prime Minister on the state of the country and his priorities, but I am not going to get drawn into commenting specifically on that.”
In his witness statement, the duke later added that the British public “deserve to know the depths” of what he alleges happened in the press.
Harry continued: “I may not have a role within the institution but, as a member of the British Royal family, and as a soldier upholding important values, I feel there’s a responsibility to expose this criminal activity in the name of public interest.”
The 38-year-old said that “the media should have the power to be able to investigate anyone, anytime, for pretty much anything” related to people in positions of responsibility, or those who are taxpayer-funded.
He continued: “The problem is that, over the last 15 to 20 years, there are now incredibly powerful media companies who masquerade as journalists and who have, quite literally, hijacked journalistic privileges for their own personal gain and agenda, it’s an unbelievably dangerous place.”
Harry’s claim is being heard alongside three other “representative” claims during a trial which began last month and is due to last six to seven weeks.
MGN is contesting the claims and has either denied or not admitted each of them.
The publisher also argues that some of the claimants have brought their legal action too late.