Ruling on Prince Harry’s Mirror phone-hacking lawsuit to be given on Friday

By Sam Tobin

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain’s Prince Harry will find out on Friday whether he has won his phone-hacking lawsuit against publisher Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), a case in which he gave evidence earlier this year, court officials said on Wednesday.

The prince – who became the first senior British royal for 130 years to appear as a witness in court at the trial in June – is suing MGN, the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, at London’s High Court.

Harry and about 100 other claimants – which also include actors, sports stars, celebrities and people who simply had a connection to high-profile figures – are taking legal action over allegations of phone-hacking and unlawful information gathering between 1991 and 2011.

They say senior editors and executives at MGN knew about and approved of the wrongdoing. MGN, owned by Reach, says their accusations were not supported by the evidence.

Harry, King Charles’ younger son and the fifth in line to the throne, claims he was targeted by MGN for 15 years from 1996 and is seeking damages of about 440,000 pounds ($550,000).

Since stepping down from royal duties and moving to California with his American wife Meghan, the Duke of Sussex has waged war on Britain’s tabloid press, accusing it of subjecting him and others to years of harassment, intimidation and abuse.

The MGN case is one of four against newspapers in which he is currently involved, and Friday’s judgment will be the most significant ruling so far in the legal action he has brought.

After a day-and-a-half in the witness box being grilled over his MGN allegations, he said he would feel a sense of injustice if the court did not conclude he was a phone-hacking victim.

While the publisher admitted during the trial that Harry had on one occasion been the victim of unlawful information gathering, to which it said he was entitled to no more than 500 pounds in damages, its lawyer said there was no evidence that the prince’s phone had been hacked at all.

The publisher’s lawyer also argued that some of the personal information in stories published by the papers had come from, or was given with the consent of, senior Buckingham Palace aides, or was simply based on details already made public.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; writing by Michael Holden; Editing by Kate Holton, Paul Sandle and Gareth Jones)