Prince Harry has accused the Daily Mail of publishing "sensitive and distressing" details of a private phone call he had with Prince William over a photograph of their dying mother being printed in the Italian media.
The Duke of Sussex is one of seven people involved in a phone-hacking and privacy case against Associated Newspapers, which he branded "beyond cruel" for allegedly listening in on his private conversations and publishing their contents.
In his witness statement seen by Yahoo, Harry discussed an article published by the Daily Mail about a "highly emotional" private conversation between him and his brother following the publication of photographs of the late Princess Diana bring published by an Italian newspaper.
The photographs were taken in the aftermath of the Paris car crash that claimed Diana's life, and pictured her as she lay dying from her injuries.
"I do not recall reading this article at the time but it is really disgusting, especially with the crude headline and explicit reference to a phone call," he said.
"My brother and I were relatively young at the time (I was just 21) and we were having private conversations about photographs of our dead mother which had been put into the public domain. It was obviously a 'highly emotional call' for William and I as to what we should do.
"If Associated was willing to publish this type of material, then it really makes me wonder how far they are prepared to go and what else they learnt but never published because they would get caught.
"They were plainly listening into calls as well as spending large sums on private investigators. To do that is simply shameful but to publish it is beyond cruel and an abuse of journalistic privilege," his statement added.
As well as Prince Harry, who made a surprise appearance to London's High Court on Tuesday for the second day of arguments in the case, other claimants involved in the suit are Sir Elton John and Baroness Doreen Lawrence – whose son Stephen was murdered in a racist attack in 1993.
They have accused ANL of unlawful information gathering, which included the hiring of private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside cars and homes.
Among the litany of complaints raised against the publisher, Harry's lawyers claim he was “deprived of important aspects of his teenage years” by the “unlawful actions” of Associated Newspapers and was left full of “suspicion and paranoia” following the publication of articles containing information the duke says was only known to his trusted circle, court documents show.
His lawyers said: “In particular, suspicion and paranoia was caused by Associated’s publication of the unlawful articles: friends were lost or cut off as a result and everyone became a ‘suspect’, since he was misled by the way that the articles were written into believing that those close to him were the source of this information being provided to Associated’s newspapers.”
ANL’s lawyers say the claims should be dismissed without a trial because the legal actions have been brought too late and are “stale” and “largely inferential”.
A spokesperson said Harry “has become a serial litigant against Mail newspapers with whom he seems obsessed”.
They continued: “Associated Newspapers profoundly regrets his untrue, inflammatory and deeply offensive remarks about the Mail’s journalists. If they were repeated outside court, they would be highly defamatory.”
ANL also argues that an alleged confession by private investigator Gavin Burrows “prompted the claims” – and highlighted a statement in which he denies being commissioned by its newspapers to conduct unlawful information gathering.
The publisher says it “categorically denies” the allegations against it and it is “profoundly saddened” Baroness Lawrence is bringing her case.
The hearing before Mr Justice Nicklin is due to conclude on Thursday, with a ruling expected at a later date.