London — A British newspaper group has apologized for illegal information gathering and vowed it won't happen again in a trial beginning Wednesday that pits Britain's Prince Harry and other celebrities against the U.K's tabloid press. The trial kicking off Wednesday at London's High Court is over a suit, brought jointly by the Duke of Sussex and other U.K. celebrities, including popstar Cheryl Cole and the estate of the late George Michael, against the Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), publisher of the Daily Mirror tabloid, over alleged phone hacking.
The Mirror Group is contesting the claims against it, arguing that some have been brought beyond the permissible time limit and denying some others. However, MGN said in court documents released Wednesday that there was "some evidence of the instruction of third parties to engage in other types of UIG [unlawful information gathering] in respect of each of the Claimants," which "warrants compensation."
"MGN unreservedly apologizes for all such instances of UIG, and assures the claimants that such conduct will never be repeated," court documents said. "This apology is not made with the tactical objective of reducing damages (MGN accepts that an apology at this stage will not have that effect), but is made because such conduct should never have occurred."
The celebrities' claims pertain to a period between 1996 and 2011, which encompasses the time when media personality Piers Morgan, now a vocal critic of Prince Harry and his wife Megan, Duchess of Sussex, served as the Daily Mirror's editor.
MGN previously admitted that phone hacking had historically taken place at its papers, and it has paid settlements to victims, Sky News reported.
The suit was launched in 2019, and Harry is expected to testify in June. It alleges that journalists working for the Mirror Group gathered information unlawfully, including by hacking phones. Prince Harry's legal team initially pointed to 144 articles that they said used unlawfully gathered information. Only 33 will be considered in the trial, according to Sky News.
Harry and Meghan have filedagainst U.S. and U.K. media outlets since 2019, according to Sky News, and Harry is currently involved in four cases against U.K. tabloid newspapers. He is part of a group alleging unlawful information gathering at Associated Newspapers Limited, which publishes The Daily Mail, and against News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun tabloid.
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