Prince Harry says press intrusion on holiday ‘terrifying’ for ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy

Prince Harry. Photo: Reuters/Toby Melville

Tony Jones

Prince Harry has described how his former girlfriend Chelsy Davy endured the “terrifying” experience of photographers swarming over their holiday destination after the Mail of Sunday published its location.

The Duke of Sussex said his former partner felt she was “being hunted” and he was “scared” she would end the relationship after the newspaper allegedly used “unlawful” methods to discover their break in Argentina.

Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), publisher of the Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail, is bringing a bid to end High Court claims brought by a group of celebrities including Harry and Elton John, over allegations of unlawful information gathering – which included the hiring of private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside cars and homes.

Harry has cited 14 newspaper articles published in the Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail, featuring information known only to his trusted circle, he claims were the product of unlawful information gathering by the publications.

In his witness statement, he said about the press descending on their Argentinian holiday: “This intrusion was terrifying for Chelsy: it made her feel like she was being hunted and the press had caught her, and it was terrifying for me too because there was nothing I could do to stop it and now she was in my world.

“She was ‘shaken’ and I was really paranoid about trying to protect our privacy, as the article says. Their behaviour and treatment of Chelsy was not normal.

“I was scared that Chelsy was going to run in the opposite direction or be chased and harassed to death.”

Harry also claimed in his witness statement the institution of the monarchy was “withholding information” from him about the phone hacking scandal.

He said the “institution” made clear to him the royal family did not need to know about the issue that rocked the British newspaper industry, and “did not sit in the witness box because that could open up a can of worms”.

“The institution was without a doubt withholding information from me for a long time about NGN’s (News Group Newspapers Limited) phone hacking and that has only become clear in recent years as I have pursued my own claim with different legal advice and representation,” Harry said in his witness statement.

The duke said during his 10 years as an army officer from 2005 he was “extremely busy and worked long hours”, and did not have the time to regularly read newspapers or watch television.

He said he had no knowledge his phone had been “hacked”, saying: “My understanding was that a voicemail my brother had left for me had been accessed and published. Aside from that, I thought that the hacking had been confined to the phones of members of staff.”

Harry said in his statement: “I do, however, remember (former Daily Mail editor) Paul Dacre clearly stating that phone hacking had not taken place at Associated. I have no real recollection or knowledge of the phone hacking trials from before 2016.”

It was only after he had brought legal proceedings against other newspaper publishers he learnt from his solicitors “that some private investigators had come forward to admit – for the first time – to unlawful information gathering that had been commissioned by Associated”.

He was told one private investigator “regularly commissioned” by the Mail on Sunday had used landline tapping, voicemail hacking, blagging, obtaining credit card bills and phone records to “unlawfully obtain” his private information.

Harry was left “astounded” by the fact a hardwire tap had been placed on the phone of his close friend Guy Pelly.

The duke claims in his witness statement a Mail on Sunday article about a fledgling relationship with Laura Gerard-Leigh ended prematurely after her family were visited by the press.

He said: “Laura and I had a very brief but private relationship which lasted for a matter of months. The fact that ANL journalists learnt so quickly was therefore extraordinary.”

The duke added: “This article is a prime example of why my relationship with Laura did not last long. It led to Laura’s parents being doorstepped which they were understandably not pleased about.”

Harry concludes his statement by saying: “Unfair is not a big enough word to describe the fact that Associated is trying at this early stage to prevent me from bringing my claim.

“I do not see why Associated should get away with something they have covered up and lied about for however many years.

“I simply do not understand how I could have discovered that I had these claims against Associated for the unlawful acts I am claiming about any earlier than I did, especially as current senior figures at Associated lied all those years ago, which everyone believed.”