UK's Prince Harry says tabloid's journalists are 'criminals'
By Michael Holden and Sam Tobin
LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's Prince Harry has accused Buckingham Palace in court documents of withholding information from him about phone-hacking and said he was exposing the alleged wrongdoing by tabloid "criminals" out of love for his country.
In a witness statement to London's High Court where he and six other figures are suing Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail, over phone-hacking and other privacy breaches, Harry again criticised the monarchy for its complicity with the tabloid press. He said the institution had made it clear that members of the royal family did not appear in a court witness box as it "could open up a can of worms".
In his statement, released to the media on Tuesday, he said he wanted to hold Associated accountable for "everyone's sake"
"The British public deserve to know the full extent of this cover up and I feel it is my duty to expose it," he said.
Harry, the younger son of King Charles, began legal claims last year against Associated, along with singer Elton John, his husband David Furnish, actors Sadie Frost and Liz Hurley, campaigner Doreen Lawrence, whose son was murdered in a racist attack, and former lawmaker Simon Hughes.
They allege they were the victims of "numerous unlawful acts" carried out by journalists or private investigators working on behalf of Associated titles, the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.
These include the hacking of mobile phone messages, the bugging of phone calls, obtaining private information by deception or "blagging", and "commissioning the breaking and entry into private property" over a possible 25-year period, according to their lawyers and court documents.
Associated categorically denies the allegations. It is seeking to have the case thrown out, arguing the claims fall outside a time limit for legal action, and that some breach an order made during a year-long public inquiry into press standards which began in 2011
In a statement late on Monday, it said a private investigator, whose evidence was key part to the case brought by Harry and the others, had now signed a witness statement denying the allegations he made to their lawyers. His statement said he now denied acting illegally on behalf of Associated.
"The evidence I have seen shows that Associated’s journalists are criminals with journalistic powers which should concern every single one of us," said Harry, who has been attending court with some of the other claimants for a four-day preliminary hearing in their case against Associated Newspapers.
Harry said he had been "vaguely" aware of phone-hacking in 2005 when it came to light the royal correspondent and a private investigator working for the defunct News of the World tabloid, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers (NGN), were targeting the phones of royal aides.
"I became aware that I had a claim that I could bring against NGN in 2018," his statement said.
"However, there was in place an agreement between the Institution and NGN that we would not engage, or even discuss, the possibility of bringing claims against NGN until the litigation against it relating to phone hacking was over.
"The Institution was without a doubt withholding information from me for a long time about NGN's phone hacking."
His latest accusations come on the back of similar attacks on the royals in his memoir "Spare" and the six-part Netflix documentary series about him and his wife Meghan in which he said members of his family had conspired with the press to protect or enhance their own reputations.
Buckingham Palace has so far declined to comment on any of the accusations.
The lawsuit is one of three cases in which the British prince is involved at the High Court. He is also suing the Mail for libel and is expected to appear as a witness in May to give evidence in a trial against the Daily Mirror newspaper over accusations of phone-hacking.
(Reporting by Michael Holden;Editing by Bernadette Baum, Alexandra Hudson)