Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Prince Harry has claimed that Piers Morgan “knew, encouraged and concealed” illegal targeting of Diana, Princess of Wales when he was editor of the News of the World.
Harry alleged that journalists working for Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid newspapers obtained his mother’s private text messages and phone calls before she died, with the information used as the basis for multiple stories in the Sun and the News of the World.
Harry alleged in court documents that this illegal targeting of Diana – as well as Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles – was known and hidden by Morgan and other editors in the mid-1990s.
Morgan, who hosts a nightly show on Murdoch’s TalkTV channel, has always denied any direct knowledge of phone hacking during his time as a tabloid newspaper editor. The TV presenter ran several times with Harry. In 2021, Morgan quit ITV’s Good Morning Britain after making comments about the prince’s wife, Meghan.
Harry lists a number of articles published during Morgan’s tenure as editor of the News of the World between January 1994 and August 1995. The prince alleges that they were all the result of illegal intelligence gathering.
“Di’s cranky phone calls to married Oliver; She rang 3 times in 9 minutes and hung up as she heard Oliver’s voice”, about Diana’s alleged affair with art dealer Oliver Hoare.
“Di’s roam alone”, about Diana flying to the United States on holiday and leaving Princes William and Harry behind with other members of the royal family.
“Di and Fergie bury the hatchet”, about a private meeting between Diana and the Duchess of York.
“It’s Diana or me; Di: Will is my dear friend – not my lover; Carling went into the palace when boys went out”, about Diana’s alleged affair with England rugby player Will Carling.
“Fry Lá VJ Di ar Tiggy”, about a supposed dispute between Diana and royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke.
Some of these stories were written by Clive Goodman, the newspaper’s royal correspondent, who would later be jailed for hacking Prince William’s voicemails.
One of the stories allegedly based on illegally gathered information was written by News of the World reporter Gary Jones, now editor of the Daily Express.
Harry made the allegations in proposed amendments to his phone hacking claim against Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers (NGN), which is being heard at the high court.
He also alleged that journalists working for NGN received messages from Diana’s secret personal pager – a device used to receive text messages before the widespread use of mobile phones.
Harry says a 21-page log of text messages sent by Oliver Hoare to this device in late 1994 was later found deposited in the office of Tom Crone, a senior lawyer at the Murdoch company.
The messages were said to include Hoare asking Diana if her children were staying with their grandparents and questioning whether William and Harry were excited to meet the members of Take That.
Harry also claims that journalists working for Murdoch newspapers intercepted personal phone calls and messages sent by his father, now King Charles, and his stepmother, Camilla.
Morgan has also been linked to other phone hacking allegations relating to his time as editor of the Mirror between 1995 and 2004. Last year, lawyers suing the Mirror’s parent company alleged that Morgan “must have known on voicemail interception” during the time it was. who was running the tabloid. Harry has a separate legal case against the publisher of the Mirror, which is due to go to trial next month in the high court.
TV presenter Jeremy Paxman, speaking under oath at the Leveson inquiry, said Morgan once invited him to lunch and explained how mobile phone voicemails could be hacked. Morgan previously told the Guardian: “I’ve never hacked a phone and I’ve never told anyone to hack a phone.”
Amendments to Harry’s legal claim also allege that former News of the World editors Phil Hall and Bob Bird, and former Sun editors Stuart Higgins and David Yelland, must have known about Diana’s illegal dating in the mid-1990s. .
Harry made it clear that he blames the tabloid media for his mother’s death while being chased by paparazzi through Paris. On Tuesday, the High Court heard her claim that the Sun and other newspapers chose to force the press to travel without a police escort to avoid leaks, which eventually led to her death in 1997.
Related: Prince Harry does not blame the queen for an alleged deal with the Murdoch press, the court hears
Harry suggests that the Murdoch newspapers covered up their illegal activity, publicly criticizing Diana’s “paranoid disregard” for being illegally targeted when “she was under close surveillance and her calls were illegally intercepted” by individuals working for the Sun and the News of the World.
Harry also points out that Diana was punished by the press for giving an interview to BBC Panorama in 1995, rather than providing private information to the Sun or News of the World.
Harry previously told the court he had personally been the victim of widespread phone hacking and illegal activity by the Sun and News of the World, claiming there was a secret deal between the royal family to keep such deals out. of the court.
Murdoch’s company has always denied any illegal behavior at the Sun and is trying to block Harry’s legal claim on the grounds that he waited too long to file his legal paperwork.