Private investigator at centre of Prince Harry case against Daily Mail denies admitting hacking
The key witness at the centre of the case Prince Harry and other celebrity claimants have brought against the publisher of the Daily Mail has denied ever making a statement admitting phone hacking.
The Duke of Sussex, Sir Elton John, Baroness Lawrence and others are suing Associated Newspapers for allegedly stealing private details.
A key element of their case is a statement from 2021, in which Gavin Burrows, a private investigator, appears to have made detailed admissions that he was commissioned by the Mail on Sunday to target celebrities by hacking phones and bugging cars.
However, in a written document submitted to the court, Mr Burrows strongly denied being commissioned or instructed by the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday to gather information unlawfully.
On Friday night, he went further and tweeted that he did not make or sign the 2021 statement.
‘Paralegals out to make money’
He said: "alot [sic] of you seem to be asking why I changed my statement. I did not make this statement."
He added: "Have received no letters from any lawyers. A document of that magnitude would require a wet signature and me going to a lawyers."
He claimed: "It is a cut and paste from my evidence of NOW and Sunday people and document was apparently electronically signed.
"Hence why I contacted the mail lawyers. Paralegals out to make money for non existent claims.
"Also on the day of signing my doctor can prove i was not in a state to sign on it."
A preliminary hearing in the case took place this week.
On Wednesday, Prince Harry and the other claimants were told by the High Court judge overseeing the case they may "have to adjust their expectations" of Mr Burrows.
During the third day of the hearing, Adrian Beltrami KC, for the Mail’s publisher, Associated Newspapers, said that in the event of a trial, the "quality" of Mr Burrow’s evidence should be called into question.
Mr Beltrami said: “The difficulty with this statement of course is it is directly contradicted by a signed statement obtained by the defendant on March 8.”
When asked whether Mr Burrows had been asked about the apparent contradiction, Mr Beltrami replied: “He says it’s not true.”
Judge Mr Justice Nicklin responded: "There's a trial point if ever I saw one."
Mr Justice Nicklin added: "From the claimants' point of view, Mr Burrows' statement of August 2021 is fairly significant."
However, he added that the claimants "may have to adjust their expectations" of him in light of the contradiction.
‘Admitted to targeting me’
According to documents submitted to the High Court by his lawyers, Prince Harry said he embarked on the case after being told Mr Burrows "admitted to targeting me".
Baroness Lawrence said she launched her case after being informed that Mr Burrows and another private investigator had recently confessed to carrying out a wide range of criminal activities on behalf of Mail newspapers.
Sir Elton, Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost also cited Mr Burrows' alleged confessions.
The hearing concluded on Thursday, with a ruling reserved to a later date.
Associated Newspapers has said: “We categorically deny the very serious claims made in this litigation and will vigorously defend them – if that proves necessary.”