Lawyers representing Mirror Group Newspapers accused Prince Harry of wasting court time after he failed to arrive at the High Court in London Monday morning for his phone hacking trial against the publisher, which owns British tabloid the Daily Mirror.
David Sherborne, representing Prince Harry and other high-profile claimants, told the court that the Duke would not attend the hearing today as he arrived in the UK late after flying from California last night, where he had been celebrating his daughter Lilibet’s second birthday on Sunday, according to multiple media reports.
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Andrew Green KC, representing Mirror Group Newspapers, said it was “extraordinary” that Prince Harry had not turned up for the opening day of his case. Green continued to say that court time would be wasted due to the Duke’s absence, and he would be unable to correctly prepare to cross-examine the Duke.
Justice Fancourt, the judge presiding over the case, told the court he was “a little surprised” to learn that Prince Harry would not be attending court on Monday. The Duke’s barrister later added that he will attend court tomorrow to give evidence, The Guardian reported.
Prince Harry, and three other claimants, are suing Mirror Newspapers, alleging information about them was illegally obtained to generate stories. The claimants believe journalists from the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, and The People illegally accessed their voicemails to listen in on messages.
This is a civil case rather than a criminal case. When Prince Harry gives evidence in the trial on Wednesday, he will be the first senior royal to be cross-examined in court since the 19th century.
Mirror Group Newspapers has previously admitted that its journalists were involved in phone hacking and has paid out £100M ($126M) in settlements and legal costs to victims, according to The Guardian.
The newspaper group has denied that senior executives were aware of the unlawful activity. The company also denies hacking Prince Harry’s phone but has apologized to the Duke of Sussex for using a private investigator to illegally gather evidence about him at a nightclub in 2004.
In his witness statement, Prince Harry told the High Court that unlawful activity at Mirror Group Newspapers contributed to “huge distress” and “paranoia.”
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