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Prince Harry’s Phone Hacking Victory Is A Landmark In The Long Saga Of British Tabloid Misconduct

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LONDON, England – The win of Prince Harry over Mirror Group Newspapers on Friday over what a British judge dubbed “habitual” criminal action is a watershed moment in the long and twisted saga of lawbreaking by Britain’s tabloid press.

Judge Timothy Fancourt decided that the Mirror newspapers had recruited private investigators to snoop on people’s personal information and had engaged in criminal phone hacking for over a decade.

It’s the latest chapter in a long story about tabloid power and attempts to control it — but it’s unlikely to be the last.

In the pre-digital era, Britain’s fiercely competitive tabloid newspapers sold millions of copies daily and would take considerable measures to gain scoops, including using deception.

One way was phone hacking, which involved dialing someone’s number and entering 0000 or another default PIN number to gain access to their voice messages. Quite often, it did.

Members of the royal family, politicians, athletes, celebrities, friends and family of prominent persons, and regular residents who found themselves in the public eye were all targets.

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Prince Harry’s Phone Hacking Victory Is A Landmark In The Long Saga Of British Tabloid Misconduct

In his verdict, Fancourt stated that phone hacking was “habitual” at Mirror publications as early as 1998 and continued until at least 2011.

Most people first heard of phone hacking when the royal editor of the News of the World and a private investigator was convicted in 2007 for eavesdropping on messages sent by Prince William and others on royal aides’ phones.

Rupert Murdoch, the paper’s owner, characterized the misbehavior as the work of two rogue employees. Then, in 2011, it was revealed that the News of the World had hacked Milly Dowler’s phone, a 13-year-old girl who had been abducted and eventually found murdered.

The uproar triggered a controversy that forced Murdoch to close the 168-year-old tabloid, Britain’s best-selling newspaper.

The government established a judge-led public inquiry into media ethics to investigate the complicated web of links — close and, some say, too intimate — that bind Britain’s political, media, and police elites. Justice Brian Leveson advocated establishing a powerful press watchdog backed by government regulation. His findings have been largely implemented, but substantial portions of the press have been resistant and fearful of state intervention.

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Prince Harry’s Phone Hacking Victory Is A Landmark In The Long Saga Of British Tabloid Misconduct

Judge Fancourt stated that it was obvious that Leveson had not been informed of the whole truth. He claimed that the Mirror’s misconduct “was concealed for years from the board, Parliament, the Leveson Inquiry, shareholders, and the public.”

Following the 2011 discoveries, numerous News of the World editors and executives were charged with illegal phone hacking. Former editor Andy Coulson was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2014 for conspiring to hack phones after an eight-month trial at London’s Central Criminal Court. Five additional accused were acquitted, while others pleaded guilty.

There have been no additional criminal cases since then, but Murdoch’s News Group and Mirror Group have spent hundreds of millions to settle claims from dozens of claimed victims of hacking and other illicit behavior. Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail, is facing hacking lawsuits from Prince Harry, Elton John, and others.

While many tabloid targets have settled out of court, Prince Harry was adamant about going to court. The Mirror Group action is one of three he has filed against newspaper publishers and is the first to go to trial.

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Prince Harry’s Phone Hacking Victory Is A Landmark In The Long Saga Of British Tabloid Misconduct

Harry has made it his mission to tame the tabloid press, which he blames for his mother Princess Diana’s murder, for harassing him throughout his childhood, and for helping drive him and his wife Meghan out of the United Kingdom.

In a statement delivered by his lawyer, David Sherborne, outside the High Court in London on Friday, he said, “Today is a great day for truth, as well as accountability.”

The judge granted Harry a paltry 140,000 pounds ($180,000) in damages, but the case is likely to cost the Mirror Group much more, as the findings may enhance the claims of others who have brought lawsuits against the corporation. To satisfy charges of illegal information harvesting, the publisher has already paid more than 100 million pounds ($126 million).

The judge decided against two of Harry’s co-claimants because they had waited too long to start legal action, giving the firm a partial victory.

On Friday, PLC, Mirror Group’s parent company, stated that the verdict is intended to “reduce the number of live claims, and substantially limit and bar all or most future claims” for prior wrongdoing.

The decision might seriously affect Sly Bailey, the former CEO of Mirror Group’s parent business, and Paul Vickers, the firm’s ex-legal director. The judge said they both knew about the hacking and covered it up.

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Prince Harry’s Phone Hacking Victory Is A Landmark In The Long Saga Of British Tabloid Misconduct

It also puts more pressure on Piers Morgan, a former Daily Mirror editor who has consistently denied knowing anything about phone hacking at the tabloid. The judge stated there was “compelling evidence” that editors of all Mirror publications were aware that phone hacking “was being used extensively and habitually.”

“I’ve never hacked a phone or told anyone else to hack a phone,” Morgan said following the verdict on Friday.

People who broke the law, according to Prince Harry, should face criminal proceedings.

“I respectfully call upon the authorities, the financial regulator, the stock market who were deliberately deceived by Mirror Group, and indeed the Metropolitan Police and prosecuting authorities to do their duty for the British public and to investigate bringing charges against the company and those who have broken the law,” the prime minister said in a statement.

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

U.K News

Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

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WASHINGTON – With rare bipartisan support, the House advanced Friday on a $95 billion foreign aid plan for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and humanitarian aid, as a coalition of members helped it cross a procedural hurdle and reach final votes this weekend. Friday’s vote delivered an unusual outcome in the generally hyper-partisan House, with Democrats voting 316-94 in support of Republican Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan. The final House approval might come this weekend, when the package is delivered to the Senate.

It was a success for Speaker Mike Johnson’s strategy, which he put into action last week after agonizing over the legislation for two months. Nonetheless, Johnson has spent the past 24 hours making the rounds on conservative media, attempting to salvage support for wartime funding, particularly for Ukraine as it faces a critical moment in its battle with Russia, but also for his own job, as the restive right flank threatens to oust him over the effort.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

“There’s a lot of misinformation about what we’re doing here and why,” Johnson said to The Mark Levin Show’s conservative host.

“Ukrainians urgently require lethal aid right now. “We cannot allow Vladimir Putin to roll through another country and take it,” he stated of the Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine. “These are very serious matters with global implications.”

After months of delay, the House moved slowly but methodically this week after Johnson decided to move forward. President Joe Biden quickly endorsed the speaker’s plan, and Donald Trump, the Republican assumed presidential nominee who opposes most foreign aid to Ukraine, has not slowed the speaker’s progress.

“The world is watching what Congress does,” the White House stated. “Passing this legislation would send a powerful message about the strength of American leadership at a pivotal moment.”

In an extremely rare move, members of the House Rules Committee banded together late Thursday in a near-midnight vote, with four Democrats supporting a procedural step, to push the package past the Republican majority’s three hardline holdouts and send it to the House floor for debate, 9-3. It was a moment unlike any other in recent House history.

Johnson will need to rely on Democrats again on Friday to pass the next procedural vote and block Republican amendments that might kill the plan. One proposed by extreme Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene would cut Ukraine’s funding to zero.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

Greene has filed a “motion to vacate” the speaker from office, which has at least one Republican co-sponsor, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky. It may initiate a bid to oust Johnson from the speaker’s office if she calls it up for a vote, similar to how Republicans removed Kevin McCarthy from the job last November.

With one of the most slender House majorities in modern history, Johnson can only afford to lose one or two Republican votes to pass any legislation. That dynamic has pushed him into the arms of Democrats as he seeks votes to enact the legislation.

Johnson cannot tailor the plan as the ultra-conservatives seek without risking losing Democratic support. It has prompted him to abandon severe security measures to control migrants at the US-Mexico border, among other goals.

At best, Johnson has been able to divide a Senate-passed version of the bill into different portions, as House Republicans prefer, and the final votes will be on various measures — for Ukraine, Israel, and Indo-Pacific partners.

The plan would also include a fourth clause, which incorporates several Republican demands that Democrats support or are ready to accept. Proposals include allowing the United States to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to rebuild Ukraine, imposing sanctions on Iran, Russia, China, and fentanyl trafficking criminal organizations, and potentially banning the video app TikTok if its Chinese owner does not sell its stake within a year.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

Passing each package, which is set to be voted on Saturday, would require Johnson to establish intricate bipartisan coalitions, with Democrats assuring Ukraine funding is authorized but some left-leaning progressives refusing to support military aid for Israel due to the destruction of Gaza.

The components would then be automatically stitched back together into a single package and delivered to the Senate, where hardliners are plotting procedural measures to postpone final passage.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Italy Opens New Slander Trial Against Amanda Knox. She Was Exonerated 9 Years Ago In Friend’s Murder

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Florence, Italy – Amanda Knox was back on trial for defamation Wednesday after falsely accusing a Congolese man of murdering her roommate while the two were exchange students in Italy. Knox was convicted of the murder before being acquitted in a case that drew national attention.

Amanda, a 20-year-old student with limited Italian who had just arrived in Perugia, faced a long night of questioning in the death of Meredith Kercher. She eventually accused the owner of the pub where she worked part-time of killing the 21-year-old British student.

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Italy Opens New Slander Trial Against Amanda Knox. She Was Exonerated 9 Years Ago In Friend’s Murder

In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights found that her rights were infringed since she was interrogated without the presence of a lawyer or an official translator.

In November, Italy’s highest Cassation Court overturned the defamation conviction — Knox’s lone remaining guilty decision — nine years after the same court overturned convictions for Kercher’s murder against Amanda and her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.

That conviction, which went through many trials and appeals, has remained a legal stain on her, particularly in Italy, while she seeks a new life in the United States, lobbying for judicial reform.

Another man was found guilty in Kercher’s 2007 murder.

Amanda, now 36, did not present at Wednesday’s court in Florence and is being tried in absentia. She stays in the United States, where she works for social justice and is working on several media projects, including a podcast and a limited series on her case for Hulu.

Amanda’s accusation against bar owner Patrick Lumumba surfaced in police-typed statements that she signed, but Italy’s highest court declared them inadmissible in the new trial.

She recanted the claim in a four-page handwritten note in English dated the following afternoon, which is the only evidence the court can consider.

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Italy Opens New Slander Trial Against Amanda Knox. She Was Exonerated 9 Years Ago In Friend’s Murder

However, Lumumba’s lawyer, Carlo Pacelli, contended that the banned documents should be readmitted as references because Knox mentioned them several times in her written statement. Lumumba, who is participating in the case in accordance with Italian law, did not attend the trial.

After nearly four hours of arguments, the court recessed and will reconvene on June 5 for rebuttals and a ruling. Eight lay jurors and two qualified judges are conducting the trial.

Despite Knox’s attempts to retract the claim, Lumumba was apprehended for questioning and detained for nearly two weeks.

Knox was sentenced to three years in prison for defamation, which she served for nearly four years until being judged not guilty by a Perugia appeals court. After six years of conflicting judgments, Italy’s highest court formally exonerated Knox of the murder in 2015.

knox

Italy Opens New Slander Trial Against Amanda Knox. She Was Exonerated 9 Years Ago In Friend’s Murder

Kercher’s body was discovered with her throat cut on November 2, 2007, in her locked bedroom in the apartment she shared with Knox and two other roommates.

Rudy Guede, whose DNA and footprints were discovered at the scene, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He was released after spending 13 years and is now being investigated for allegedly physically and sexually assaulting a previous girlfriend since his release.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Germans Celebrate As Recreational Cannabis Use Becomes Legal

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Crowds gathered in Germany overnight to celebrate the legalization of cannabis, which begins on Monday.

There was music and dancing at the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin as many waved placards and blew smoke into the air.

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Germans Celebrate As Recreational Cannabis Use Becomes Legal

One guy was seen cycling through the crowd, carrying a big cannabis leaf artwork on a trailer behind their bike, while another ceremoniously rolled a joint in front of news cameras.

Following a contentious national discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of making cannabis more accessible, Germany’s lower house of parliament decided last month to legalize it for restricted recreational use.

Karl Lauterbach, the health minister, praised the move in an X post on Monday.

“Weed use was already present yesterday, but it is increasing. “Now it’s out of the taboo zone,” he wrote.

“This is better for real addiction help, prevention for children and young people and for combating the black market, for which there will soon be an alternative.”

The new restrictions allow adults to carry tiny amounts for personal use, but the substance remains illegal for people under 18.

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Germans Celebrate As Recreational Cannabis Use Becomes Legal

Under new regulations proposed by Germany’s ruling coalition party, adults can cultivate up to three plants for private use. Beginning April 1, the limit is 50g at home and 25g in public.

From July 1, cannabis will be offered in approved not-for-profit clubs with no more than 500 members, all of whom must be adults. Only club members would be able to consume their output.

The German government stated that cannabis would remain illegal for kids and severely restricted for young adults and that consuming the substance near schools and playgrounds would be prohibited.

Germany becomes the third country in Europe to legalize cannabis for recreational use, following Malta and Luxembourg, and removes it from the official list of illegal narcotics.

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Germans Celebrate As Recreational Cannabis Use Becomes Legal

The Netherlands prohibits drug possession, but some towns allow them to be sold at coffee shops as part of its so-called toleration policy.

Other countries, such as Australia and the United States, have differing local restrictions.

SOURCE – (CNN)

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