Prince Harry has alleged that The Sun newspaper paid a private investigator to find out Meghan Markle’s social security number when they had first started their relationship.
The allegation unveiled Wednesday April 26 was part of the witness statement filed by the duke in a preliminary hearing against News Group Newspapers (NGN), in which he also alleged that Prince William made a secret deal with the publishers to privately settle his own phone hacking claim and to avoid the possibility of appearing as a witness in a legal case.
Harry’s witness statement reads: “The Sun (through its journalist, James Beal, who I now know regularly stalked me in the UK and abroad to places such as Jamaica) instructed an American private investigator, Danno Hanks (who has admitted to regularly carrying out work for NGN over a number of years), to obtain private information in the form of a report about my new relationship with Meghan.
“This information, which included highly sensitive information such as her social security number (and other details about her and her family), was unlawfully obtained by Mr Hanks in the full knowledge of the Editors of The Sun.”
Harry said that this meant The Sun obtained private information, which could be seen in two articles, “such as my and/or Meghan’s call records (to establish how many texts I had sent her), flight details and so on.”
Harry claims that this means that “unlawful activity isn’t as ‘historic’ as NGN claims” and that the company has not changed since the phone hacking scandal saw the closure of the News of the World.
Responding to the claims, NGN said in a statement that it had settled everyone it hacked since 2012, the company didn’t deny the allegations or accept them.
The statement reads; “In 2012, an unreserved apology was made to all of those who had brought cases against the News of the World for voicemail interception. Since then, NGN has been paying financial damages to those with claims.
“There are a number of disputed claims still going through the civil courts some of which seek to involve The Sun. The Sun does not accept liability or make any admissions to the allegations.
“As we reach the tail end of litigation, NGN is drawing a line under disputed matters, some of which date back more than 20 years ago.
Harry’s witness statement was filed as part of a preliminary hearing that began on 25 April, in which the publishers of The Sun tried to get a case brought against them by Prince Harry and other claimants including Hugh Grant thrown out.
Harry has made claims about deals made between the palace and the Sun newspaper before, but this witness statement saw him go into more detail.
He added that the late Queen Elizabeth supported his legal action against NGN, but that his father Charles (then Prince of Wales) undermined their efforts.
The case continues