Harry and Meghan biographer Omid Scobie claimed yesterday that he was shown how to hack phones while on work experience at a red-top newspaper.
He said he was also given a list of celebrities’ mobile numbers – but never accessed their voicemails because it ‘seemed completely immoral’.
Mr Scobie also angrily insisted that he is not the Sussexes’ ‘friend, mouthpiece, cheerleader’ as he gave evidence at the High Court for the prince.
In a dramatic clash, he denied having a ‘vested interest’ in the Duke of Sussex’s case against a newspaper publisher for alleged phone hacking.
As he took to the witness box, the author of gushing biography Finding Freedom repeatedly dismissed suggestions that his ‘sympathies’ lay with Harry.
Harry and Meghan biographer Omid Scobie angrily insisted yesterday that he is not the couple’s ‘friend, mouthpiece, cheerleader’ as he gave evidence at the High Court for the prince. Pictured: Mr Scobie arriving outside the High Court in London today
Prince Harry (pictured with his wife Meghan) and others are suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People, over stories they claim were the result of phone hacking or other illegal information gathering. The paper denies the claims
The duke and others are suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People, over stories they claim were the result of phone hacking or other illegal information gathering. The paper denies the claims.
The court heard that when he was a journalism student in 2002, Mr Scobie did work experience at the Daily Mirror, where he claimed he witnessed then-editor Piers Morgan being told that a story about Kylie Minogue ‘had come from voicemails’.
Mr Scobie claimed he overheard the conversation between the editor and the women who ran his ‘3am Girls’ showbiz column, with whom he was ‘captivated’.
The royal journalist also said that when he did work experience at The People a few weeks earlier, he had been given a list of celebrities’ mobile phone numbers and shown how to access voicemails.
He had been ‘taken aback by what seemed completely immoral and I never carried out the task’, the judge was told.
Mr Scobie rejected suggestions he had either ‘innocently created a false memory’ or knowingly fabricated one.
The newspapers’ KC Andrew Green put it to him: ‘Mr Scobie, this incident didn’t happen did it? No journalist would have asked you, a student intern during one week, to hack phones.’
Mr Scobie, author of gushing biography Finding Freedom (pictured), repeatedly dismissed suggestions that his ‘sympathies’ lay with Harry
Mr Scobie told the court he had ‘never socialised’ with Prince Harry adding he is ‘literally a member of the press’ doing his job
Mr Scobie said: ‘You would be surprised at what happens’, adding that he took offence at the suggestion.
Mr Green said Mr Scobie was close to Harry and Meghan and that his career had benefited from his unrivalled access to the couple, who were the subject of his ‘relentlessly flattering’ 2020 book Finding Freedom.
Mr Green said: ‘You have a vested interest in helping the Duke of Sussex, if the opportunity arises, don’t you?’
Mr Scobie, editor-at-large at magazine Harper’s Bazaar and a royal contributor to ABC News and Good Morning America, hit back: ‘No. Because what I am doing now is giving ammunition to tabloids to call me his friend.
‘I have never socialised with him. I am literally a member of the press doing my job.
‘I am called friend, mouthpiece, cheerleader – when my approach is no different to any other royal correspondent having an area of focus.’
Mr Scobie was challenged over how closely he worked with Harry and Meghan on Finding Freedom.
In a witness statement he gave to the High Court in 2020, during a case fought by Meghan against The Mail on Sunday over a letter she had written to her father Thomas Markle, Mr Scobie insisted the duke and duchess had not directly cooperated with his book.
Mr Green suggested Mr Scobie had ‘deliberately omitted’ from his witness statement that Harry and Meghan had ‘collaborated’ on the book via their press spokesman, to which the author retorted: ‘Are you saying the Royal Family is collaborating with the press every time a question goes to a communications aide?’
In the first week of the seven-week trial, the court was told Prince Harry is ‘a very long way’ from proving ‘outlandish allegations’ he was the victim of hacking by Mirror publisher.
The newspaper group branded parts of the Duke of Sussex’s case as ‘ambitious and unrealistic’ and beset with ‘utterly non-existent’ evidence.
Harry and three others allege they were targeted by journalists at the Mirror titles during an ‘industrial-scale’ period of unlawful information gathering including phone hacking in the 1990s and 2000s.
The case continues.