By Sam Tobin
London – Journalist Piers Morgan, the former editor of British tabloid the Daily Mirror, knew about phone hacking, Prince Harry’s biographer said on Monday as he gave evidence as part of the royal’s lawsuit against the newspaper’s publisher.
Harry, King Charles’ younger son, and more than 100 others are suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, accusing the papers of phone hacking and other unlawful behaviour between 1991 and 2011.
Omid Scobie, co-author of “Finding Freedom”, an unofficial 2020 biography of Harry and his wife Meghan, told London’s High Court that Morgan was “reassured” over a 2002 story about singer Kylie Minogue after being told it had come from voicemail interception.
Scobie told the court he had been working as an intern on the Mirror’s gossip column in 2002 when Morgan was told a story about Minogue was the product of phone hacking.
“Piers seemed really reassured by this,” he said.
Morgan, now a high-profile broadcaster who works for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp NWSA.O, has always denied any involvement in or knowledge of phone hacking or other illegal activity.
“I am not going to take lectures on privacy invasion from Prince Harry, somebody who has spent the last three years ruthlessly and cynically invading the royal family’s privacy for vast commercial gain and told a pack of lies about them,” Morgan told ITV News last week.
In his evidence, Scobie also recounted how he had been given a list of cellphone numbers to hack while also working a few months earlier as a journalism student intern on the Sunday People.
MGN’s lawyer Andrew Green said the two incidents did not happen, telling Scobie his recollections were a “false memory”. Scobie denied that was the case, saying he took offence at the suggestion.
He also denied having a “vested interest” in helping Harry or that he was a friend or “mouthpiece” of the prince, as British tabloids have suggested.
Former Sunday Mirror journalist Dan Evans, who was convicted of phone hacking in 2014, also gave evidence on Monday, telling the court he had been a victim of “corporate grooming” by senior MGN figures to hack phones to generate stories.
MGN, which is now owned by Reach RCH.L, “strongly denies these allegations”, its lawyer Green said last week.
The trial, due to last some seven weeks, is initially focusing on generic allegations against MGN before later turning to the specific claims of Harry and three other test cases.
Harry is due to give evidence himself in person in early June, the first British royal to do so since the 19th century.