Prince Harry is speaking out after securing a major victory in his legal battle against Mirror Group Newspapers.
A London court ruled in favor of Harry, 39, on Friday, December 15, with a judge finding “sufficient proof” that the publisher “engaged in unlawful information gathering, including phone hacking,” per court documents obtained by Us Weekly.
The Duke of Sussex sued Mirror Group Newspapers — which owns publications like the Daily Mail — for allegedly hacking his phone to obtain information between 1996 and 2011. While the media company denied the claims, London Judge Timothy Fancourt determined on Friday that the evidence submitted by Harry’s legal team had been “unlawfully gathered by journalists.” Harry was awarded £140,600 ($180,000) in damages.
“This case is not just about hacking. It is about a systemic practice of unlawful and appalling behavior, followed by clever-ups and destruction of evidence, the shocking scale of which can only be revealed through these proceedings,” Harry said in a statement after the ruling, per People. “The journey to justice can be a slow and painful one and since bringing my claim almost five years ago defamatory stories and intimidating tactics have been deployed against me and at my family’s expense.”
Harry noted that he’s since learned “patience is, in fact, a virtue” when it comes to his court cases. (He gave a seven-hour testimony against Mirror Group in June.)
“My commitment to seeing this case through is based on my belief in our need — and collective right — to a free and honest press,” he continued. “And one which is properly accountable when necessary. That is what we need in Britain and across the globe. Anything else is poisoning the well for a profession we all depend on.”
Harry said that his victory is an example “of what happens when the power of the press is abused” before pleading with anyone who was “deliberately deceived” by Mirror Group to “investigate bringing charges against the company and those who have broken the law.”
He concluded, “I’ve been told that slaying dragons will get you burned but in light of today’s victory and the importance of doing what is needed for a free and honest press, it is a worthwhile price to pay. The mission continues.”
While his trial against Mirror Group Newspapers came to an end, Harry is gearing up for another court case against News Group Newspapers.
In July, Judge Fancourt ruled that Harry’s case will go forward regarding allegations about unlawful information but will proceed without phone hacking claims. The trial is set to begin next month.