Prince Harry was on Monday, June, 5, accused of wasting court time after missing the first day of his historic case, in order to celebrate his daughter’s birthday.
He is now expected to appear at the High Court witness box today, where he will become the first senior royal to give evidence in 132 years, swearing an oath to tell the truth beneath his father the Sovereign’s coat of arms.
According to reports, his appearance in court could have happened yesterday. Instead, an exasperated judge rebuked the duke’s barrister when it became clear the royal witness was ‘unavailable’ for the opening day of his own case suing the publisher of the Mirror newspaper.
David Sherborne explained that his client was in a ‘different category’ because of his ‘travel and security arrangements’.
Those arrangements involved Harry flying from California on Sunday night after celebrating Princess Lilibet of Sussex’s second birthday, the court heard.
The Mirror’s KC Andrew Green said it was ‘absolutely extraordinary’ that Harry was ‘not available for day one of his trial’.
Mr. Justice Fancourt said he was ‘a little surprised’ that Harry was not there, and admonished Mr Sherborne for causing ‘timetable chaos’.
Prince Harry will finally walk into the High Court’s modern annexe the Rolls Building today.
He and three others are suing the Mirror group claiming the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, and The People newspaper hacked their phones or conducted other illegal activity, which is denied.
But the publisher’s KC insisted: ‘There is simply no evidence that the Duke of Sussex was ever hacked – still less that he was hacked on a habitual basis.’
Mr Green said unlike other hacking cases which were supported by phonecall data, Harry’s case had ‘zilch, zero, nada’ similar evidence.
He also said it was a ‘striking fact’ that not even convicted phone hackers Graham Johnson and Dan Evans – former Mirror journalists who have given evidence in support of Harry – have said that the duke or those close to him were hacked.
Mr. Green added that the Metropolitan Police had thoroughly investigated the phone hacking scandal and had never suggested to Harry that he was a victim.
Harry alleges about 140 articles published between 1996 and 2010 contained information gathered using unlawful methods.
Mr. Sherborne claimed the duke’s phone ‘would have been hacked on multiple occasions’ along with those of his family, friends, and royal aides.
He said Harry who is also suing The Sun’s publisher and that of the Daily Mail – was not pursuing ‘a vendetta
generally against the UK media’ but wanted to use his fame to ‘focus attention’.
Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror was also hacking Princess Diana’s voicemails from Harry when he was a schoolboy, it was claimed.
Mr. Sherborne said the title’s former editor had boasted he heard Diana had secretly comforted TV comic Michael Barrymore, who was in turmoil over addiction and coming out as gay, adding: ‘How he heard was obvious – the Mirror was listening in to her messages and would have heard private messages from Prince Harry.’
Mr. Green said this was ‘total speculation without any evidential basis whatsoever’.