Prince Harry has hit out at the royal family in a stunning testimony in London’s High Court, accusing them of “withholding information” from him for “a long time” in a bid to prevent him opening “a can of worms”.
The Duke of Sussex’s blistering words came on day two of a preliminary hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in which he and other high-profile figures are suing publisher Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL) over alleged phone hacking and misuse of private information.
In his witness statement, which was released at the end of Tuesday’s proceedings, he claimed he was forced to adopt his family’s policy of “never complain, never explain” when it came to dealing with the media.
“Following the death of my mother in 1997 when I was 12 years old and her treatment at the hands of the press, I have always had an uneasy relationship with the press,” Harry said.
“However, as a member of the Institution the policy was to ‘never complain, never explain.’ “There was no alternative; I was conditioned to accept it. For the most part, I accepted the interest in my performing my public functions.”
However, he said it became increasingly difficult after he started dating Meghan Markle, and he was “increasingly troubled by the approach of not taking action against the press in the wake of vicious persistent attacks on, harassment of and intrusive, sometimes racist articles concerning Meghan.
“The situation got worse”, he claimed, after Meghan fell pregnant and around the birth of their first child, Prince Archie, in May 2019.
In his statement, Harry also said that he only became aware in 2018 that he had a potential claim against News Group Newspapers over alleged phone hacking.
“The Institution was without a doubt withholding information from me for a long time about NGN’s phone hacking and that has only become clear in recent years as I have pursued my own claim with different legal advice and representation,” he said.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that the bubble burst in terms of what I knew in 2020 when I moved out of the United Kingdom.”
Harry and Meghan left the UK in 2020 after stepping back from royal duties, settling in her home state of California in March that year.
“There was never any centralised discussion between us about who had brought claims as each office in the Institution is siloed. There is this misconception that we are all in constant communication with one another but that is not true,” he said of the royal family’s structure.
Harry added that the claim was “not just about me.”
“I am bringing this claim because I love my country and I remain deeply concerned by the unchecked power, influence and criminality of Associated,” he said.
“The evidence I have seen shows that Associated’s journalists are criminals with journalistic powers which should concern every single one of us. The British public deserve to know the full extent of this cover up and I feel it is my duty to expose it.”
Harry’s words were released alongside witness statements from his co-claimants, which include Sir Elton John, Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost.
The four-day hearing, which began on Monday, will consider legal arguments from both sides and conclude with a judge’s ruling on whether the case should go to trial.
Associated Newspapers has argued that the case should be thrown out, and denies the allegations, which it called “preposterous smears”.
Originally published at www.news.com.au