“It is unfair to tarnish journalists with career-destroying allegations,” court said

It is “fundamentally unfair to tarnish journalists” with “career and reputation-destroying” allegations that they are involved in illegal news-gathering, a lawyer for the publisher of the Mirror has told the High Court.

Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) is being sued by the Duke of Sussex and others over claims that journalists at its titles – the Daily, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People – were linked to methods including hacking telephone calls, so-called “blagging” or obtaining information. through deception and the use of private investigators for illegal activities.

Continuing his arguments on Thursday, MGN’s lawyer, Andrew Green KC, told the trial in London that it was “inappropriate” for certain allegations, including of criminal wrongdoing, “to be simply waved around like confetti”.

The lawyer disputed arguments from Harry’s attorneys and others that a judge should rule that journalists at his three titles engaged in “pattern and widespread” illegal activity from 1991 to 2011.

    Duke of Sussex     Duke of Sussex

The Duke of Sussex gave evidence in trial against Mirror Group Newspapers (PA)

Mr Green said there was “simply no evidence” to support such a conclusion regarding alleged phone hacking, with the claimants’ lawyers’ arguments “absolutely doomed to failure”.

He told Judge Fancourt he was being asked to find that “systemic” criminal activity had taken place in MGN titles over several years, adding that these were “incredibly serious allegations and they do not should not be taken lightly. .

Mr Green said there was “no evidence” of phone hacking beyond the period covered by a previous High Court ruling from 2015 covering similar claims against MGN.

He said it was “fundamentally wrong” for the judge to draw “generic” conclusions that MGN journalists had engaged in illegal activity, which he said the plaintiffs’ lawyers had requested regarding “a enormous number of people.

“We say this is quite outrageous…and should not be allowed to happen,” Mr. Green said, adding: “These are findings…that cannot be made by the court.”

These are “career and reputation-destroying allegations that are potentially of interest to the police,” Mr. Green also said.

Michael Turner, known professionally as Michael Le Vell,Michael Turner, known professionally as Michael Le Vell,

Michael Turner, known professionally as Michael Le Vell, is best known for playing Kevin Webster in Coronation Street (PA).

“They’re just scattered like confetti,” he added, noting that a former journalist witness at the trial – Tom Worden – was now a practicing lawyer.

“You are being asked to destroy his career,” Mr. Green told the judge.

Mr Green later said Harry’s case included an allegation that former royal correspondent Jane Kerr was a “prolific user of private investigators”.

The barrister told the court: “It has simply not been established that she has a history of illegally gathering information. »

He said such a statement was “a fairly unfair, if not reprehensible, insult from Ms Kerr”.

“These are career-destroying allegations… against Ms. Kerr,” he added.

Mr Green said there was “nothing to suggest” she was involved in the illegal collection of information contained in the evidence.

“It’s just fundamentally unfair to tarnish journalists in this way,” Mr. Green said.

Nikki SandersonNikki Sanderson

Nikki Sanderson, former Coronation Street actress (PA)

The lawyer gave another example of former Daily Mirror journalist and editor Anthony Harwood, who wrote one of the articles the Duke complains about, which “at times appears to have asked a third-party provider to find an old directory telephone number.”

Mr Green said there was “absolutely no basis to suggest… that he did this for the purpose of intercepting voicemail”, adding that such a request could be for journalistic purposes “perfectly legitimate” and could be achieved “by perfectly legal means”.

The lawyer said that while it was a “civil wrong,” it was “as low a level (of illegal information gathering) as you can imagine.”

Mr Green also said the claimants had made “desperate” and “arguable” claims that the judge should find that “every invoice or payment” relating to the third-party suppliers named in the case indicated illegal activity.

MGN’s lawyer also rejected “criticism” of his cross-examination of witnesses at the start of the trial, saying that given the “very serious” nature of the allegations made, it was “perfectly legitimate to cross-examine as to their reliability.”

He added that “the suggestion that I should not have done this is completely false.”

Harry’s case is being heard alongside similar claims from actor Michael Turner, known professionally as Michael Le Vell and best known for playing Kevin Webster in Coronation Street, actress Nikki Sanderson and ex -wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse, Fiona Wightman.

Judge Fancourt’s findings regarding these four individuals will be used to determine the outcome of dozens of claims filed by others against MGN, including actor Ricky Tomlinson, the estate of the late singer George Michael, the former footballer and TV presenter television Ian. Wright and Girls Aloud singer Cheryl.

MGN largely disputes these allegations and denies that any of the articles complained of resulted from phone hacking, while asserting that the vast majority did not arise from any other illegal activity.

The publisher has made a limited number of admissions of illegal activities in relation to the Duke, Ms Sanderson and Ms Wightman, for which the publisher has apologized and accepted that they will be entitled to certain damages , but denies the majority of their claims and those of Mr. Turner. whole case.

The trial is scheduled to conclude Friday and Judge Fancourt will issue his decision at a later date.