Prince Harry has failed to appear on the first day of the court battle with the British tabloid publisher

LONDON (AP) – Prince Harry’s phone hacking trial against the editor of the Daily Mirror began without his presence in court – and the judge was not happy.

Harry’s lawyer said the Duke of Sussex could not be reached to testify after the opening speech as he took a flight from Los Angeles on Sunday following the birthday of his two-year-old daughter Lilibet.

“I’m a little surprised,” said Judge Timothy Fancourt, noting that he had ordered Harry to appear in court on the first day of his trial.

Mirror Group Newspaper lawyer Andrew Green said he was “deeply disturbed” by Harry’s absence on the opening day of the trial.

Harry was due to testify on Tuesday, but his solicitor was told last week that the Duke should attend Monday’s hearing in London’s High Court if opening arguments were completed before the end of the day.

The case against the editor of the Daily Mirror is the first of several lawsuits brought by the prince against the media before the court and one of three tabloid publishers accused of unlawfully sniffing him in their cutthroat competition for information about the royal family .

Harry, 38, will become the first member of the British royal family to testify in court in more than a century. He is expected to describe his grief and anger at being stalked by the media throughout his life and the impact it has had on those around him.

He blamed paparazzi for causing the car crash that killed his mother, Princess Diana, and said harassment and interference from the British press, including allegedly racist articles, prompted him and his wife Meghan to take a year Escaping to the US in 2020 and leaving royalty life behind.

The articles at issue in the trial date from his 12th birthday in 1996, when the Mirror reported Harry was feeling “bad” about the divorce of his mother and father, now King Charles III.

Harry said in court documents that ongoing tabloid reports made him question who he could trust, fearing friends and associates would betray him by leaking information to the newspapers. His circle of friends dwindled and he suffered from “major bouts of depression and paranoia.” Relationships fell apart as the women in his life — and even their family members — were “pulled into the mess.”

He says he later found out the source wasn’t disloyal friends, but aggressive journalists and private investigators they hired to intercept voicemails and track him to places as remote as Argentina and an island off Mozambique .

Mirror Group Newspapers said it did not hack Harry’s phone and its articles were based on legitimate reporting techniques. The publisher admitted and apologized for hiring a private investigator to dig up dirt at a bar on one of Harry’s nights out, but the resulting 2004 article, headlined “Sex on the beach with Harry,” isn’t among those 33 articles in question that are before the court.

Phone hacking, in which security codes were guessed or stolen in order to eavesdrop on celebrities’ voice messages on cell phones, was widespread in British tabloids in the early 2000s. When it became known in 2011 that News of the World had hacked the phone of a murdered 13-year-old girl, the industry fell into an existential crisis.

Owner Rupert Murdoch shut down the newspaper and several of its executives faced criminal charges.

The Mirror Group has paid more than £100m ($125m) to settle hundreds of wrongful information gathering lawsuits and released an apology to victims of phone hacks in 2015. However, she denies executives – including Piers Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004 – knew about hacking.

Harry’s anger at the British press – and sometimes at his own royal relatives for what he believes to be collusion with the media – runs through his memoir, Spare, and interviews conducted by Oprah Winfrey and others. His claims will face a tough audience in court when he is cross-examined by the Mirror Group’s lawyer.

The opening statements mark the second phase of a trial in which Harry and three others have accused the Mirror of hacking phones and illegally gathering information.

In the first part, attorney David Sherborne, representing Harry and the other plaintiffs, including two actors from the soap opera Coronation Street, said the illegal activities were “widespread and commonplace” in the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People . and carried out on an “industrial scale”.

Two judges – including Justice Timothy Fancourt, who is presiding over the current trial – are currently deciding whether Harry’s two other phone hacking cases will go to trial.

Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, publishers of The Sun, and Associated Newspapers Ltd., which owns the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, have argued that the cases should be dismissed because Harry failed to resolve the complaints within a six-year period of discovery to file alleged wrongdoing.

Harry’s attorney has argued that he and other plaintiffs should be granted an exemption from the time limit because the publishers lied and deceived to hide the illegal acts.

Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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