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Amidst the phone hacking trial, the publisher of ‘Mirror’ apologizes to Prince Harry

Prince Harry
(Getty)

Prince Harry has received an apology from Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for unlawful information gathering as the lawsuit comes to London court.

The apology arrived Wednesday as the trial for the Duke of Sussex’s suit against the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Express, and more officially began this week. Prince Harry, 38, is one of four “representative” claimants chosen as “test cases” from a larger group of high-profile figures suing the publisher for alleged unlawful information gathering, The Independent previously reported.

The apology arrived in court filings from MGN, stating that the media group “unreservedly apologizes” for one instance of unlawful information gathering against King Charles‘ son and that the violation “warrants compensation,” Sky News reported. According to the outlet, an MGN journalist ordered a private investigator to illegally gather information about the prince’s activities at a London nightclub in 2004. The article that followed in The People is not one of Harry’s claims in this case, however, the BBC said.

“MGN unreservedly apologizes for all such instances of UIG, and assures the claimants that such conduct will never be repeated,” the apology read in full. The publishing hub continues to deny allegations of voicemail hacking, arguing that the legal time limit has passed for some of the cases. Prince Harry’s case involves 148 articles published between 1996 and 2010, the BBC added.

While the Duke of Sussex’s attorney David Sherborne was at court Wednesday, the Duke of Sussex was not. Prince Harry was not expected to make an appearance at the start of the trial against MGN, though he made a quick trip to the U.K. over the weekend to see his father’s coronation on Saturday. He flew home nearly immediately after, arriving back in the U.S. on the evening of his son Prince Archie’s 4th birthday.

In a written submission, Sherborne said his client “experienced unusual telephone and media-related activity which is consistent, now in hindsight but at the time unsuspected, with the unauthorized accessing of his voicemails and another unlawful information gathering,” Sky News reported.

The attorney added that Prince Harry specifically received missed and hung-up phone calls “on an almost daily basis from numbers he did not recognize.”

“This unlawful activity, including in particular knowing where the Duke of Sussex was going to be at a given time and the widespread dissemination amongst MGN’s journalists of private information relating to him, posed a very real and large-scale security risk for the Duke of Sussex, his family, and his associates,” he argued, Sky News said.

Though he wasn’t there for the start of the trial, Prince Harry is expected to appear in London court in June. The trial itself is expected to last between six and seven weeks, and Harry will make modern royal history as the first member of the royal family to step up in court as a witness when he gives evidence.

The other claimants are actress Nikki Sanderson, actor Michael Turner and Fiona Wightman, ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse. Prince Harry is also currently involved in litigation against two other publishing hubs for claims of unlawful information gathering.

In late March, the Duke of Sussex made a surprise appearance at London’s High Court, attending three out of four days of hearings that will determine whether his lawsuit against Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, goes to trial. A further decision has not yet been announced.

In late April, the High Court of Justice in London held a preliminary hearing that will determine whether the Duke of Sussex’s suit against the publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News of the World goes to trial. As seen in a witness statement obtained by PEOPLE, Prince Harry is suing NGN over unlawful information gathering from “as early as 1994 until at least 2016.”

The Duke of Sussex claimed NGN had a “secret agreement” in place with the royal family which meant that he previously could not bring a claim against the publisher forward and that his brother Prince William quietly received a “very large sum of money” in a settlement.

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