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5 things we learnt from Prince Harry’s court appearance 

Welcome to Thursday’s Early Edition from i.

It was because of a chance meeting, while on holiday in France with his wife and Elton John in 2018, that Prince Harry took to the stand in the High Court this week – the first time a senior royal has testified from a witness box in 130 years. (That case, in 1890, known as the Tranby Croft affair, saw Queen Victoria’s son Bertie, the-then Prince of Wales, give evidence for 20 minutes, which “wearied him exceedingly” according to a report at the time). Back to France, it was on this sojourn that the Duke of Sussex met prominent barrister David Sherborne, who suggested he hire a lawyer. “I didn’t go to them. I bumped into Mr Sherborne in France… it’s in my book,” Prince Harry told the High Court yesterday. The Duke began legal proceedings in 2019. And now, after a day and a half in court, we have heard his evidence. We’ll look at the key bits, after the headlines.

 Today’s news, and why it matters

Energy firms are facing the threat of payouts potentially worth billions to customers that would make the PPI scandal ‘look like peanuts’, i can reveal. Lawyers acting for hundreds of small businesses across the UK are launching legal action against energy supply giants – including British Gas, Shell, EDF and Scottish Power – over long-term deals signed since 2000.

Britain is battling with the EU to become the world’s leader on the opportunities and threats of AI. The PM wants London to be the home of an international regulatory body and is also keen for countries to pool funds for artificial intelligence research, i understands. But EU officials claim that Brussels is already in talks with the US over regulation and is better positioned than the UK to lead on AI, accusing Mr Sunak of being behind the curve.

The Brexiteer hedge fund boss who bankrolls GB News, a former Rupert Murdoch executive and foreign publishers are being lined up for a £600m bidding war to buy the Telegraph newspapers, insiders say. A source close to the process said: “Allying GB News with the Telegraph would create a powerful right-wing media empire across digital, print and TV, possibly rivalling Murdoch’s News UK.”

MPs have warned that plans to bar parliamentarians accused of sexual offences from the estate could lead to “vexatious complains” or risk the anonymity of genuine accusers. The proposals, announced by the House of Commons Commission last week, would see a special panel convened once authorities have been made aware that an MP or peer has been arrested on sexual assault or violence.

Labour is on track to win a 140-seat majority at the next election under new constituency boundaries which come into effect when the UK next goes to the polls. In the first MRP poll under the new boundaries Labour would win 35 per cent of the vote while the Conservatives would win 23 per cent. Based on these shares, Labour would win up to 470 seats, while the Conservatives would get 129 seats.

Hundreds of summer flights could be cancelled at short notice after Heathrow security workers announced 31 days of strike action. Unite the Union said more than 2,000 of its members will walk out for 31 days from 24 June during one of the busiest periods of the school holidays in a dispute over pay, plunging travellers’ plans into fresh turmoil.

Five key takeaways from Prince Harry’s High Court cross-examination:

The breakdown of his relationship with Chelsy Davy: Prince Harry accused the media of being responsible for his break-up with ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy, saying the pair were “never alone” due to media intrusion. He claimed Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) journalists had blagged the couple’s flight details and hotel bookings and intercepted their voicemails. He cited a story published by the Mirror about a holiday he took with Ms Davy to Mozambique, which included a paragraph detailing when he was due to return. “The paragraph that says ‘Harry, who will fly back to Britain on December 19… .’ “Not only is that a security risk, I can’t begin to imagine how the journalists would have known,” he said. Responding to another question about whose phone could have been hacked to obtain that information, Harry said: “I believe the Mirror Group had Ms Davy’s number at this time.” Another article from 2007, entitled “Davystated: Three Huge Rows Rock Royal Romance,” published in The People, also came under his scrutiny. It stated that: “Prince Harry’s romance with Chelsy Davy is in crisis after a string of bitter bust-ups.” In his witness statement, he said: “I certainly wasn’t discussing our relationship in these kind of details with anyone inside the Palace. Given the hours I was working at the time, it’s likely Chelsy and I did exchange voicemails even more often than normal, so I now believe that this information must have come from the hacking of our voicemails.” Andrew Green KC, acting for MGN, said we are in the “land of total speculation about where this information might have come from”. “Not at all, I disagree,” Harry responded. Read the full story here.

His views on what constitutes public interest: Prince Harry was challenged by Mr Green about what sort of story about him would be in the public interest, to which the royal replied: “A life-threatening injury”. “I’m sure there are others,” he added. The comment was made during cross-examination over an article published in the Sunday People in May 2005 about Harry having a knee injury and fellow cadets at Sandhurst complaining he was given “preferential treatment” by being let off “gruelling marches”. The Duke said he did not accept that there was a degree of public interest in the story. Read the full story here.

The row with Piers Morgan deepens: In his witness statement Harry said: “Unfortunately, as a consequence of me bringing my Mirror Group claim, both myself and my wife have been subjected to a barrage of horrific personal attacks and intimidation from Piers Morgan, who was the editor of the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004, presumably in retaliation and in the hope that I will back down, before being able to hold him properly accountable for his unlawful activity towards both me and my mother during his editorship.” Prince Harry also said he felt “physically sick” at the thought of the journalist listening to voicemails left by Diana, Princess of Wales, during his time as editor of the Daily Mirror. Mr Morgan has always denied knowingly commissioning or publishing stories based on illegally obtained information. The former Good Morning Britain presenter left the show in 2021 after saying he “didn’t believe a word” of Ms Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which she discussed having suicidal thoughts while she was a member of the Royal Family.

Lack of call data: Andrew Green, the barrister representing MGN, asked Prince Harry about the lack of call data between his phone and MGN journalists. Claimaints in the 2015 phone hacking trial had “extensive call data” showing calls to their mobile phones. Mr Green asked if the lack of call data in his claim suggests his phone wasn’t hacked, to which the duke replied: “Absolutely not.” Prince Harry also said he believed there was “industrial-scale destruction of evidence on all sides”. Separately, the court also heard from former MGN royal correspondent Jane Kerr, whose byline features on a number of the articles that came under examination. She said in a witness statement: “I have never engaged in voicemail interception at MGN or elsewhere and I have never engaged the services of private investigators or other third parties to engage in unlawful information gathering activities.”

The emotional toll: Harry said he wanted to put a stop to the “absolute intrusion and hate that was coming towards me and my wife and see if there was any way to find a different course of action, rather than relying on the institution’s way”. As his evidence concluded, Mr Sherborne asked: “Prince Harry, you have been in that witness box for over a day-and a half. You have had to go through these articles and answer questions knowing this is a very public courtroom and the world’s media are watching. How has that made you feel? After a long pause, in which he appeared emotional, the duke answered: “Erm, it’s a lot.”

Prince Harry arrives at the High Court for his second day of evidence in his hacking case against the Mirror Group (Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Around the world

Vulnerable New Yorkers have been warned to stay inside as smoke from Canadian wildfires drifted south, blanketing cities in a thick yellowish haze. Air-quality alerts have been issued for nearly the entire Atlantic seaboard, while health officials in states from Vermont to South Carolina and as far west as Ohio and Kansas warned residents that spending time outdoors could cause health problems due to the number of fine particulates in the atmosphere.

The former US vice president Mike Pence launched his presidential bid on Wednesday with an attack on his former boss and rival Donald Trump. At his launch rally in Iowa, Mr Pence alleged that Mr Trump had “demanded” he choose between personal loyalty and the Constitution while attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Images supplied to i by US satellite firm Planet show how the huge Dnipro River in Ukraine’s Kherson region burst its banks and flooded towns and villages miles downstream after the dam in Russian-held territory collapsed on Tuesday. The satellite images show how the river has swamped islands and swept into towns and cities including the city of Nova Kakhovka, which has a population of 45,000.

Europeans are reluctant for their countries to take a bigger role in global affairs but want to cut dependence on the United States, a poll has found. Respondents want to stay out of any potential conflict between the United States and China, according to the poll released on Wednesday which shows 60 per cent would “remain neutral” in a military clash over Taiwan.

The world’s largest sand island has officially changed its name after a backlash that described it as culturally inappropriate. Fraser Island, off the coast of Australia’s Queensland, had been named after Scotswoman Eliza Fraser, who described its early Aboriginal inhabitants as savages and cannibals. Now it will be officially reinstated to its original name of K’gari.

 Watch out for…

 a case at the High Court – but this time, it’s about the environment. campaigners from the group Protect Dunsfold and Waverley Borough Council are challenging plans to begin gas drilling in rural Surrey. 

 Thoughts for the day

It’s not slacker sixtysomethings Rishi Sunak should worry about, it’s our chronic ill-health. Tory ministers can’t blame EU workers for our problems, so now they blame ‘workshy’ Brits, writes Paul Waugh.

How to get ahead as a woman in Westminster. Demand change, and avoid ambitious men, advises Cleo Watson.

The reaction to Mizzy’s pranks reveals Britain’s racist underbelly. His behaviour has been unacceptable and dangerous, but a wiser measure would have been to not invite him on TV in the first place, argues Kelechi Okafor.

The last few weeks of platforming Mizzy show how unbalanced some parts of the mainstream media can be (Photo: Lucy North/PA Wire)

Culture Break

I regret giving up wearing the sari after seeing the Design Museum’s bold show. This exhibition of the history, politics and tradition of the sari is a visual feast that also confounds, excites, and unsettles, writes Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

China town sari from the Chinoi-sari collection, 2017. Ashdeen. (Photo: Hormis Antony Tharakan)

The Big Read

How we became allergic to the modern world. Our entire modern lifestyle is likely to be at the root of the recent rise in allergies, says author and medical anthropologist Theresa MacPhail.

Adult woman suffering allergy (Photo: Raquel Arocena Torres/Getty)


West Ham win Conference League final against Fiorentina to end decades of trophy hurt. The winger raced through to score in the 90th minute to secure West Ham’s first trophy since 1980 and second-ever European cup, writes Oliver Young-Myles.

Bowen celebrates after scoring the 90th minute winner in Prague (Photo: Getty)

Something to brighten your day

 One Ukrainian schoolboy’s love for the game Minecraft has meant he can now afford to buy his mother, who has been made homeless by the war, a house. Lomond School pupil Maksym Gavrylenko, 17, made a “substantial” sum after selling the server he ran from his bedroom. He said: “I am very proud that I was able to turn my passion into a profitable business and I plan on treating my mother.”

Lomond School pupil Maksym Gavrylenko made a “substantial” sum (Photo: Big Partnership/PA Wire)

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