Prince Harry: tabloids hid hacking crimes for 20 years
Duke of Sussex joins case against Sun and Mirror in group action alleging documents were destroyed
Leading tabloid newspapers concealed or destroyed evidence that they illegally targeted Prince Harry and his circle of friends and advisers over many years, according to allegations contained in his unprecedented legal action against two media groups.
He is joining scores of other people in a group claim that alleges editors and executives at Mirror Group Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mirror, and News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of the Sun and the defunct News of the World, mounted an industrial-scale cover-up over more than 20 years.
The Byline Investigates website, which first reported the Duke of Sussex was taking legal action, says the group claim is due to be heard next October. The Observer understands the claims made by each group member carry around five pages of allegations relating to hacking and blagging obtaining personal information illegally and around 20 pages outlining allegations of concealment and destruction of evidence. The claims cover 1994 to 2011.
Byline reports the dukes claim could see his lawyers seek to establish whether the newspapers intercepted voicemails of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. The website claims it will also explore whether, even after Dianas death in August 1997, private investigators were hired to illegally target her friends and family.
Legal experts have suggested the duke would have a problem bringing the claim. Under the Limitation Act, there is a six-year window from when a claimant becomes aware of the privacy breach to bring a claim.
Clive Goodman, a News of the World journalist, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator, were jailed in 2007 for offences including the hacking of voicemails of aides working for the duke and his brother, Prince William.
However, it is clear that the dukes claim extends at least a decade beyond that 2007 case. As with the other group claims, the duke alleges evidence was destroyed and concealed and so any limitation defence would fail under Section 32 of the Act if it were shown to have concealed wrongdoing.