LONDON: Prince Harry is seeking damages of around £440,000 (US$560,000) from Britain’s Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), court documents released on Friday revealed as the trial of the royal’s phone-hacking lawsuit came to an end.
The prince and around 100 others are suing MGN, the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, at London’s High Court over allegations of phone-hacking and unlawful information gathering between 1991 and 2011.
They claim senior editors and executives at MGN knew about and approved of the wrongdoing. MGN, owned by Reach, is fighting the lawsuit and says there is no evidence for the accusations.
Harry says he was targeted by MGN for 15 years from 1996 and that over 140 stories which appeared in its papers were the result of unlawful information gathering, though the trial –- which ends on Friday -– is only considering 33 of these.
The prince is seeking up to £320,000 in damages in relation to the 33 articles in the event the court finds in Harry’s favour on all of them, according to court documents which were made public on Friday.
A further document released later on Friday by the claimants’ lawyers states the prince is seeking another £120,000 for 61 episodes of alleged unlawful information gathering said to have been carried out against Harry and others including his mother, the late Princess Diana.
The court may also consider whether Harry is entitled to what are known as aggravated damages, which can be awarded to compensate a claimant for additional distress caused by a defendant’s actions.
MGN argues that none of the 33 articles resulted from unlawful information gathering. It says there is no evidence Harry’s phone was hacked and that some of the personal information about Harry had come from, or with the consent of, senior Buckingham Palace aides.
The publisher argues Harry should receive no more than £37,000 even if he wins on all 33 articles, according to the documents released on Friday.
At the start of the trial in May, MGN admitted that on one occasion a private investigator had been engaged to unlawfully gather evidence about Harry in 2004, though the article which was published did not form part of the trial.
MGN said Harry should receive a maximum of £500 in damages for that one incident, which Harry’s lawyers say justify an award of £2,500.
The company argues Harry was not otherwise a victim of unlawful information gathering.
Harry, the Duke of Sussex, became the first senior royal to give evidence in court for 130 years when he appeared this month for a day-and-a-half of questioning in the witness box.
The fifth-in-line to the throne said he believed phone-hacking took place on an industrial scale at MGN’s titles.
MGN’s lawyer Andrew Green argued in court filings that Harry’s “undoubtedly fair resentment about his treatment by British and international media” had motivated his legal action, which he said was part of his “campaign to ‘reform’ the British press”.
The trial concluded on Friday and the judge, Timothy Fancourt, said his ruling “will take some time”.