The Duke of Sussex has claimed his former girlfriend Chelsy Davy decided “a royal life was not for her” because of illegal snooping by journalists from Mirror Group Newspapers.
Prince Harry, who dated the Zimbabwean on and off for six years, said her decision to end their relationship was “incredibly upsetting” for him at the time.
The Duke, who claims his phone was hacked by Mirror Group journalists or investigators paid by the company, said he suffered “huge bouts of depression and paranoia” because he felt “he could not trust anybody”.
His claims are included in documents submitted to the High Court, where he and three other claimants are suing Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd (MGN) for alleged hacking and other allegedly unlawful information gathering.
At the start of what is scheduled to be a seven-week trial, MGN said it accepted there had been unlawful information gathering in relation to the Duke, for which it “unreservedly apologises”.
It denies phone hacking, but said its past activities “warrant compensation” in his case.
It has also admitted to some wrongdoing in the case of the former Coronation Street actor Nikki Sanderson, but denies wrongdoing in the cases of fellow Coronation Street actor Michael Turner and Fiona Wightman, ex-wife of the comedian Paul Whitehouse.
The four claim phone hacking, “blagging” and the payment to private investigators for illegally obtained information was “habitual and widespread” across the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People.
A written summary of the Duke of Sussex’s claim alleges that MGN journalists pursued him and Ms Davy wherever they went, which “placed a huge amount of unnecessary stress and strain” on their relationship.
The document states: “Ultimately, MGN’s activities led Ms Davy to make the decision that ‘a royal life was not for her’, which was ‘incredibly upsetting’ for the DoS at the time.
“They also caused their circle of friends to become smaller and smaller, meaning that friendships were lost unnecessarily, and led to ‘huge bouts of depression and paranoia’.”
The Duke alleges that MGN’s journalists were only able to find out the couple’s whereabouts by illegally accessing information about their travel arrangements.
He claims that four “highly suspicious” calls were made to Ms Davy’s landline numbers in South Africa in 2007 and 2009, and that three “highly suspicious” calls were made to her mobile number on Jan 24 2009. Ms Davy called time on their relationship in 2010.
Prince Harry’s legal team claim that suspicious calls were made to mobile phones belonging to Ms Davy and also the Princess of Wales and Princess Diana’s mother Frances Shand Kydd.
The Duke lists 313 “highly suspicious” calls made to friends, family and associates between 2003 and 2011.
Seven of the calls were made to phones belonging to Ms Davy between 2007 and 2009, one was made to Mrs Shand Kydd’s phone in 2003, two were made to the Princess of Wales’s phone in 2004 and 2010 and 22 were made to his then private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton between 2003 and 2005.
The vast majority of the calls - 270 in all - were made to the Prince’s then communications secretary Paddy Harverson between 2004 and 2011. Others who were allegedly targeted include the Prince’s friends Guy Pelly and Jamie Murray Wells, and former equerry Mark Dyer.
The court has been told that Mirror Group made 267 payments to private investigators to find information about Princess Diana, the King, and the Prince and Princess of Wales.
Documents submitted to the court claim that Mirror Group Newspapers commissioned investigators 114 times in relation to Prince Harry between 1997 and 2011.
It is alleged that MGN also made eight payments relating to the Prince of Wales between Aug 12 1997 - less than three weeks before the death of Princess Diana - and September 2004, and seven payments relating to Diana herself, from May 1996 until September 1999.
Records titled ‘Project Chelsy’
Investigators were also paid to look into King Charles III six times between May 2000 and October 2002; the Princess of Wales 12 times between 2002 and 2010, and Princess Diana’s mother Frances Shand-Kydd three times in 2001 and 2002.
Another 14 payments were allegedly made for information gathered about the late Caroline Flack, the TV presenter who briefly dated Prince Harry, between 2009 and 2011.
The documents do not specify what the payments were for, but among 13 payments relating to Prince Harry’s former girlfriend Chelsy Davy were records titled “Project Chelsy” and “Project South Africa”.
MGN is alleged to have spent around £10 million on private investigators between 1995 and 2011.
The claimants allege that unlawful information gathering started as early as 1991 and went on until at least 2011, and that board members at the company knew about the activity from at least 1999.
Documents submitted to the High Court allege that “senior executives not only failed to take steps to stop these unlawful activities but instead sought to conceal them, and deliberately lied to and misled the public, the Leveson Inquiry and Trinity Mirror’s own shareholders by falsely denying their existence”.
The claimants’ case is that among the editors who were aware of phone hacking was Piers Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004.
The hearing continues.