The tabloid press and its hangers-on sneered and catcalled when the Duchess of Sussex began a legal action against the Mail on Sunday. The sneering and catcalling abated somewhat when the Duke of Sussex took legal action against the Sun, Mirror and the now closed Screws over allegations of phone hacking. Now silence is descending on the naysayers as the allegations of hacking have spread rather further.
Today’s edition of the Observer leads on the latest allegations, but confines itself to a more general headline, claiming “Harry claims tabloids his evidence of illegal activity … Prince joins case against Sun and Mirror … Group action alleges documents destroyed”. That means he is accusing the press of a cover-up. But that is not all.
The Observer story was first broken by Byline Investigates late yesterday afternoon, and their headline is markedly different. It also shows why the tabs and their hangers-on have gone quiet today. “Prince Harry Set to Claim Princess Diana was Hacked by The Sun AND The Mirror - which then 'Covered Up’” is what has shut them all up.
Harry, as the Observer tells, “is joining scores of other people in a group claim that alleges editors and executives at Mirror Group Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mirror, and News UK, publisher of the Sun and the defunct News of the World, mounted an industrial-scale cover-up over more than 20 years”. And the timeframe?
“The Observer understands the claims made by each group member carry around five pages of allegations relating to hacking and blagging - obtaining personal information illegally - and around 20 pages outlining allegations of concealment and destruction of evidence. The claims cover 1994 to 2011”. Which takes us into Diana territory.
Do go on. ”Byline reports the duke’s claim could see his lawyers seek to establish whether the newspapers intercepted voicemails of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. The website claims it will also explore whether, even after Diana’s death in August 1997, private investigators were hired to illegally target her friends and family”.
Byline adds “Piers Morgan and Rebekah Brooks, two of the most powerful figures in British media, have already been named as alleged conspirators in various illegal cover-ups of hacking and blagging at The Sun, News of the World and Mirror titles. And legal sources with knowledge of the litigation say they can see no reason why the Duke’s claim will be any different”. Only one of those two names was an editor while Diana was alive.
And that name was Piers Morgan, who edited the Screws from 1994 to 1995, before heading off to edit the Daily Mirror. He has claimed to have had great regard for Diana, asserting that he “loved her”. The thought that the paper he edited might have been hacking her phone, and continued to hack her friends and family after her death, does not sit well with those claims. Moreover, it’s not just about hacking.
As the Byline piece notes, “The generic allegations in documents due to be served by the Duke of Sussex accuse The Sun and The Mirror of behaving more like organised crime groups than newspapers”. The Dark Arts may have crossed over into forthright illegality.
Hacking may not be a big news deal nowadays. Hacking Diana - that certainly is.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at