Harry accuses press of having ‘blood on their hands’ in hacking trial
The Duke of Sussex has accused the press of having “blood” staining their “typing fingers”, with some responsible for causing pain, upset and death.
In an impassioned part of his witness statement, Harry branded journalists the “mothership of online trolling”.
“Trolls react and mobilise to stories they create. People have died as a result, and people will continue to kill themselves by suicide when they can’t see any other way out,” the duke said.
“How much more blood will stain their typing fingers before someone can put a stop to this madness(?)”
The duke entered the witness box at The Rolls Building of the High Court on Tuesday to give evidence in his individual case against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over alleged unlawful information gathering.
In his witness statement, he described how he and his wife the Duchess of Sussex had faced “constant harassment” and abuse from the tabloids over the past six years.
He said he was “disgusted” at the cover up over the alleged unlawful information gathering and would have tried to seek justice earlier if he had known about it.
“Having experienced what I have over the last six years in terms of the constant harassment (online and off), intimidation and abuse that my wife and I have suffered at the hands of the tabloids, this sort of appalling behaviour doesn’t really surprise me,” he said.
He warned that without proper press regulation, which he accused the current government of “clearly” having “no appetite for because their friends in the press said so”, press harassment would only get worse.
Harry said finding out about the “level of cover up is what makes me want to see my MGN claim through to the end, so people can really understand what happened”.
He accused “those in power” of turning a blind eye to allow the alleged illegal action continue unabated and said the situation was “appalling”.
“The fact they’re all ganging up to protect each other, like they first did after Leveson, is the most disturbing part of it all, especially as they’re the mothership of online trolling,” the duke said.
Andrew Green KC, for MGN, asked Harry if he meant “blood on their hands” in relation to a specific article, and further asked him what he meant by it.
Harry said: “Some of the editors and journalists that are responsible for causing a lot of pain, upset and in some cases, speaking personally, death.”
He then said his reference to “blood on their hands” was “more broadly towards the press” in general, adding: “I haven’t named the journalists in that particular paragraph.”
The duke is suing MGN for damages, claiming journalists at its titles, which also include the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, were linked to methods including phone hacking, so-called “blagging” or gaining information by deception, and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.
He alleges that about 140 articles published between 1996 and 2010 contained information gathered using unlawful methods, and 33 of these have been selected to be considered at the trial.
MGN is contesting the claims and has either denied or not admitted each of them.
The publisher also argues that some of the claimants have brought their legal action too late.
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