Prince Harry says the royal institution was 'without a doubt withholding information' about tabloids hacking his phone
Prince Harry is suing Associated Newspapers for illegally obtaining information on him and others.
He said in a witness statement the royal institution was "withholding information" about phone hacking.
He also called reporters who worked for Associated Newspapers "criminals with journalistic powers."
Prince Harry said the royal institution was "withholding information" from him "for a long time" about illegal phone hacking.
(The institution refers to the business of the monarchy, which includes both royals and those who work for them.)
The Duke of Sussex made the claims in a witness statement as part of his lawsuit against Associated Newspapers (which publishes The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, and Metro, among others), People's Stephanie Petit reports.
Harry — who appeared in a London court on Tuesday — is suing the company for illegal information gathering. In his suit, he joins a slew of other famous people, including Elton John and Elizabeth Hurley. They accused Associated Newspapers of bugging their homes and cars with listening devices, a law firm representing the group said in October 2022, according to the BBC.
Associated Newspapers denied the claims at the time in a statement sent to Insider: "These unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims — based on no credible evidence — appear to be simply a fishing expedition by claimants and their lawyers, some of whom have already pursued cases elsewhere."
In his witness statement, Harry said he did not pursue legal action over phone hacking for years in part because the monarchy kept information from him, People reported.
"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 in the statement, referring to Princess Diana, according to People.
"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," he went on to say.
But Harry said his perspective changed when he started dating Meghan Markle and saw how she was treated by the press, which he said "got worse" when they had their first child, Prince Archie. According to his witness statement, he later realized he could sue the company for its practices in 2018, but he didn't know how deep the case could go until he stepped back as a senior royal in 2020.
Harry went on to say in his witness statement that there was an "agreement" between the institution and another media group that's not tied to the lawsuit, Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers (NGN), over phone hacking. NGN publishes The Sun.
"There was in place an agreement between the Institution and NGN that we would not engage, or even discuss, the possibility of bringing claims against NGN until the litigation against it relating to phone hacking was over," Prince Harry said in his witness statement, according to The Guardian's Jim Waterson. "The Institution made it clear that we did not need to know anything about phone hacking and it was made clear to me that the royal family did not sit in the witness box because that could open up a can of worms."
"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," his witness statement went on to say, according to The Guardian.
"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," he added, speaking of his and Meghan's move to Montecito, California.
Harry and Meghan ceased working with any brands owned by Associated Newspapers after they stepped back as senior royals, as they stopped participating in the royal rota system, which gives outlets like The Sun, the Daily Mirror, and the Daily Mail preferred access to the royal family.
As People reported, Harry went on to say in his statement that the structure of the institution prevented him from knowing if others had taken legal action against Associated Newspapers, saying there "was never any centralized 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 also said he brought the claim because of his love for his country and his concern about the "unchecked power, influence and criminality of Associated [Newspapers]."
"The evidence I have seen shows that Associated's journalists are criminals with journalistic powers which should concern every single one of us," Harry said, according to People. "The British public deserve to know the full extent of this cover up and I feel it is my duty to expose it."
Representatives for Prince Harry and Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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