Ben Lazarus Ben Lazarus

The ‘professional liar’ at the heart of Prince Harry’s hacking claim

(Photo: Getty)

In the summer of 2019, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were visiting their friends Elton John and David Furnish in the south of France when they were introduced to the barrister David Sherborne. This ‘chance’ meeting would be a massive coup for the man known as the ‘barrister to the stars’ (he represented Coleen Rooney in the Wagatha Christie trial and Johnny Depp against Amber Heard, among many others. Many years ago, he also acted for Harry’s mother, Princess Diana). The encounter led to Prince Harry becoming the star witness against three newspaper groups. ‘It was partially down to Elton and David,’ Harry later wrote in Spare. ‘At the end of our recent visit they’d introduced us to a barrister, an acquaintance of theirs, a lovely fellow who knew more about the phone–hacking scandal than anyone I’d ever met.’

The incentive was created for people to threaten to sue, in the belief that the newspapers would just settle

Harry hired Sherborne and joined multiple other claimants against the newspaper groups, and in due course he became the first senior royal to appear in the witness box in more than 130 years, bringing the civil claims against the press back into the spotlight. The trial against the Mirror Group concluded this week, while the Sun’s trial starts early next year and the Mail waits to hear. The judge in the Mirror case, Mr Justice Fancourt, must decide whether Harry and his fellow claimants were the target of ‘unlawful information gathering’ by the newspaper.

Sherborne, who has acted against the newspapers since the Leveson inquiry in 2011, is the public face of the claims in the courtroom, along with Harry. But behind the scenes, helping assemble much of the evidence, is a 55-year-old Liverpudlian former journalist called Graham Johnson.

Johnson, who was convicted for phone-hacking from when he worked at the Sunday Mirror, was behind one of the most outrageous fake stories ever.

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