It’s hard to imagine a media company whose sins could make Fox News and its Dominion Voting fiasco seem tame by comparison but another one of Rupert Murdoch’s companies appears to have done it. How about a news operation that gets its scoops by hacking members of the royal family?
To explain, Prince Harry revealed this week that his brother, Prince William, received a pretty nice settlement after suing a number of British tabloids for hacking his cell phone back in the early aughts. Harry is currently suing the publisher of those newspapers, News Group Newspapers, which also happens to be owned by Rupert Murdoch (tough week for Murdoch media, yeah?). The apparent revelation about William’s settlement was revealed in a witness statement that Harry submitted to the High Court in London this week in connection to his own lawsuit.
It is well established that hacking activities were carried out by News of the World, a now defunct NGN newspaper. In fact, the paper’s former royal affairs editor, Clive Goodman, was sent to prison in 2007 for having hacked members of the royal family “several hundred” times in a bid to generate exclusive scoops.
The Duke of Sussex has accused NGN of having targeted him with similar tactics to the ones used against his brother—including phone hacking—during various points between 1994 and 2016. NGN has attempted to get Harry’s case thrown out, citing a time limit on bringing litigation that it says has expired.
Whether Harry is successful with his suit or not, the statement he provided this week contains a lot of explosive quotes—including his characterization of NGN as a deceitful band of “criminals”:
“When I think about the fact that senior executives at NGN not only knew about and condoned phone hacking as a practice at both News of the World and the Sun, but also actively sought to cover it up by the deliberate concealment and destruction of evidence on an industrial scale, my immediate thoughts are that this makes them criminals, not journalists, and the fourth estate is too important and rightly powerful to have criminals masquerading as journalists running the show.
“They have lied under oath, perjured themselves in the process and have proven they’re above the law. Everyone seems to be scared of them, especially politicians.”
There are more than a few people who seem to agree with these sentiments. Indeed, the royal bros aren’t the only people that have sued NGN for allegedly targeting them. Among other litigants, romcom favorite Hugh Grant is currently suing The Sun, another NGN paper, alleging that it hacked his phone in the early 2000s. The paper has denied the allegations.
News of the World—the NGN paper accused of hacking Harry and William—isn’t around to face the music. The paper was shuttered in 2011 after it was made public that its reporters had hacked the cell phone of a missing school girl, Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered. In the fallout from the episode, Rupert Murdoch ended up having to pay Dowler’s parents millions of dollars in compensation, and the subsequent public outcry led to the newspaper’s permanent closure.