The Duke of Sussex launched his hacking legal action against the publisher of the Daily Mirror after bumping into a barrister to the rich and famous in France.
Harry told the High Court he had a chance meeting in 2018 with David Sherborne, who is representing the duke in his individual claim against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).
Mr Sherborne’s clients have included Diana, Princess of Wales, Sir Elton John, Hollywood actor Michael Douglas, former prime minister Sir Tony Blair, and in the Wagatha Christie trial, Colleen Rooney.
Harry described subsequently speaking to solicitors to discuss the “abuse, intrusion and hate” he and the Duchess of Sussex were experiencing.
The duke said: “I think it was a discussion about somehow how to find a way to put the abuse, intrusion and hate that was coming towards me and my wife and seeing if there was any way to find a different course of action without relying on the institution’s way.”
Andrew Green KC, for MGN, asked him: “When did you first go to solicitors to seek advice about a possible claim against MGN?”
Harry, giving evidence on his second day in the witness box, replied: “I didn’t go to them. I bumped into Mr Sherborne in France… it’s in my book.”
The duke said he believed the encounter was around 2018.
Harry wrote in his autobiography Spare that he and Meghan were introduced to an unnamed barrister by Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish while holidaying with the pop star.
In the excerpt, which was not presented or read to the court, Harry wrote that the barrister was “a lovely fellow who knew more about the phone-hacking scandal than anyone I’d ever met” and who suggested the duke hire his own lawyer.
Sir Elton settled a phone-hacking claim against News Group Newspapers (NGN) in 2019, and is part of a current joint claim brought by Harry and others, represented by Mr Sherborne, over alleged unlawful information gathering at Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL).
Mr Green KC suggested it was not concern over a specific MGN story that led the duke to seek legal advice, with Harry agreeing.
The barrister asked: “So prior to bumping into Mr Sherborne in France, you hadn’t sought advice from lawyers about whether you had a claim against the Mirror Group?”
The duke said: “No. Nothing at all.”
Mr Green said it “wasn’t concern over any particular article” which prompted the duke to go to solicitors.
Harry replied: “No, I was never shown anything.” He added that it was “all contained within the palace and even if I had I wouldn’t have been allowed” to make a complaint.
Mr Green suggested the duke had never been able to identify any story in an MGN newspaper which was written as a result of a voicemail message on his phone.
“That’s a question for my legal team … but I believe phone hacking started at the Mirror Group,” Harry responded.
“There is hard evidence to suggest an incredible amount of suspiciousness and I believe that burner phones were used extensively.”
Asked if there was a particular voicemail he believes was intercepted, he answered: “I can’t remember a specific voicemail that I left over the last 20 years.”
The duke, 38, is suing MGN for damages, claiming journalists at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People were linked to methods including phone hacking, so-called “blagging” or gaining information by deception, and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.
He alleges that about 140 articles published between 1996 and 2010 by MGN titles contained information gathered using unlawful methods, and 33 have been selected to be considered at the trial.
MGN is contesting his claim and has either denied or not admitted that articles about Harry being examined at the trial involved phone hacking or unlawful activity.
Harry started legal proceedings against MGN in 2019.