Harry is bringing a claim against MGN for unlawful information gathering (UIG), and has alleged that, amongst other things, employees of the publishing company hacked his phones and those of his associates and hired private investigators to illegally ‘blag’ his confidential information.
MGN have denied these allegations, instead insisting that some of the stories were sourced from within the royal households. However, they have admitted one article from 2004 about Harry’s visit to Chinawhites nightclub in London was the product of UIG.
The duke is the first member of the Royal Family to step into the witness box for over a century.
In his witness statement, seen by Yahoo News UK, he deals with articles published by the Mirror Group about the speculation around Harry’s parentage, and the debunked rumours that Major James Hewitt is his real father, rather than King Charles.
Harry's recent acrimony with his family is well publicised but, despite this, the duke made clear that he "did not believe" they - nor anyone working at the palace - would leak anything to the press that might put his security at risk.
His witness statement addresses two articles published in December 2002, headlined ‘Plot to rob the DNA of Harry’ and ‘Plot to steal Harry DNA’.
Quotes in the article were attributed to a “highly placed royal source”, which Harry said in his statement he “firmly didn’t believe”.
“Numerous newspapers had reported a rumour that my biological father was James Hewitt, a man my mother had a relationship with after I was born.
“At the time of this article and others similar to it, I wasn’t actually aware that my mother hadn’t met Major Hewitt until after I was born. This timeline is something I only learnt of in around 2014, although I now understand this was common knowledge amongst the defendant’s journalists.
The statement goes on to address the source behind the story: “Of particular concern to me in this article are the comments from the ‘highly-placed royal source’, which provided details of how the alleged plot would have been carried out and more importantly, that my DNA would be “sold abroad”.
“I’m not sure from where, or who, these comments were obtained from because they feel like a huge security risk, effectively putting a price on my DNA for anyone who could obtain it.
“I firmly do not believe that these are details anyone from within the Palace would have shared, given the measures put in place for the security of all members of the Royal Family.
Harry also addressed the second article about the ‘plan’ to steal his DNA, which was written a day later.
“This article elaborates on the money that could be obtained from obtaining my DNA and selling it on to a foreign newspaper.
“It reports that St James’ Palace believed my DNA was to be offered “to a foreign newspaper for tens of thousands of pounds”.
“Again, I do not believe this information would have been put into the public domain by anyone at the Palace, given the security risk this poses.
“The article also reports that Spain was thought to be a strong possibility for the location of the ‘honeytrap’ to take place. Again, I’m not sure where the Defendant’s journalist would have got this information from.”
Harry has repeatedly made allegations that members of his family or those working for them have leaked stories about him and his wife, however, it seems that even despite this, the accusation that the Royal Family or their staff would have sourced a story which had the potential to impact his safety is a bridge too far.
In January while promoting his memoir Spare in an interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby, Harry expressed that he wanted reconciliation with his father and brother, despite their current breakdown in relations.
He also said that reforming the British press had long been a topic of conversation between him and his brother William, but that his father King Charles had deemed it a “suicide mission”.
Harry has repeatedly expressed concerns about his security.
In March 2020, Harry’s official taxpayer-funded security was removed when he was in Canada after the Sussexes had stepped back as working royals.
The couple were assisted by Hollywood producer and director Tyler Perry, who provided them with security and a place to stay while they worked to find a long-term solution to their security needs.
Harry is currently in a legal dispute with the Home Office about his security while in the UK. He recently lost the right to pay for police security himself, but another judicial review about the security arrangements for his family is ongoing.