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Prince Harry chokes up in witness box, telling court his phone hacking testimony has been ‘a lot’


By Rob Picheta, CNN

London (CNN) — Prince Harry choked up in court as he concluded an eight-hour testimony in his lawsuit against a major British newspaper publisher, admitting he would feel an “injustice” if his claims of phone hacking were dismissed by the judge.

Asked by his lawyer how the experience of giving evidence had been, the Duke of Sussex became emotional and, after a long pause, said “it is a lot.”

“For my whole life, the press misled me, covered up the wrongdoing, and sitting here in court knowing that the (respondents have) the evidence in front of them and for (opposition lawyer) Mr. Green to suggest I’m speculating… I’m not sure what to say about that,” the duke said.

The flash of emotion came at the end of testimony – the first by a senior royal since 1891 – that stretched over two days and touched on extensive coverage of Harry’s childhood, teenage years and early 20s.

The duke is suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), accusing its titles of phone hacking and using other illicit means to gather information about his life between 1996 and 2009.

Green, the barrister for MGN, pressed Harry on Tuesday on the specifics of his phone hacking allegations, saying there is “not a single item of call data at any time” between Harry’s phone and any Mirror Group journalist.

“If the court were to find no evidence of phone hacking, would he be relieved or disappointed?” Green challenged the duke during a tense exchange towards the end of the two-day cross-examination.

“That would be speculating – I am not sure if I would be relieved or disappointed,” Harry responded. The duke told the court he believes undoubtedly that phone hacking was at an “industrial scale” across “at least three papers” so he added that it would be an “injustice” if his claim was not successful.

“You want to have been phone hacked,” Green asked, to which the duke replied: “No one would want to be phone hacked.”

Harry at times appeared nervous and uncomfortable during the cross-examination but grew in confidence as the session wore on, clashing at times with Green and volleying back questions of his own towards the lawyer.

Overall, the prince alleges that about 140 articles published in titles belonging to Mirror Group contained information gathered using unlawful methods. Thirty-three of those articles were considered at the trial and discussed in detail by Green and the prince.

On Tuesday, Harry told the court that “every single article has caused me distress.”

He added on Wednesday that an article headlined “Hooray Harry’s dumped,” which reported the ending of his relationship with Chelsy Davy, was “hurtful.”

The 2007 story “does seem to suggest that people are celebrating” the end of the relationship, Harry said, adding it “is a little bit mean.”

He added that on another evening, when he went for dinner with the late TV presenter Caroline Flack, he “was so shocked – and livid” to find that two photographers from agency IKON Pictures were already there hiding under a car, “waiting for us to arrive.”

Harry said Flack was “always of great interest to the tabloids, she was often hounded by them.” The former presenter of “Love Island” died by suicide in 2020 while awaiting trial for alleged assault, in a case that had attracted intense media interest.

After a brief questioning from his own lawyer, David Sherborne, Harry’s stretch in the witness box came to an end on Wednesday afternoon. Sherborne then began quizzing former Daily Mirror royal editor Jane Kerr, the author of some of the stories considered.

The courtroom saga has been unprecedented in modern times; a senior royal has not given evidence in court since Harry’s great-great-great grandfather, the future King Edward VII, took the stand over a game of baccarat that went awry in the late 19th century.

But Harry has been unapologetic in his efforts to force reform in Britain’s tabloid media, which he has long insisted subjected him to intrusion and wrecked many of his personal relationships.

The trial started on May 10, and is expected to last seven weeks.

MGN is contesting most of the allegations, arguing in its court filings that some claims have been brought too late and that in all four cases there is insufficient evidence of phone hacking.

In court documents published last month, the publisher did apologize for one instance of unlawful information gathering nearly 20 years ago. That incident involved a private investigator, who was paid £75 ($95) in 2004 by the Sunday People, a tabloid owned by the same group, to gather information about the Duke of Sussex while at a London nightclub.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Jessie Gretener, Lindsay Isaac, Hanna Ziady, Niamh Kennedy and Sarah Dean contributed reporting.

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