Harry and Meghan’s biographer Omid Scobie yesterday claimed he was shown how to hack phones during a work experience at a successful newspaper.
He said he was also given a list of celebrities’ cellphone numbers – but never accessed their voicemails as it “seemed completely immoral”.
Mr Scobie also angrily insisted he was not the Sussexes’ ‘friend, spokesperson, cheerleader’ as he gave evidence to the High Court for the prince.
In a dramatic clash, he denied having a ‘direct interest’ in the Duke of Sussex’s case against a newspaper publisher for alleged phone hacking.
As he took the witness stand, the author of the gushing biography Finding Freedom repeatedly dismissed suggestions that his “sympathies” belonged to Harry.
Harry and Meghan’s biographer Omid Scobie angrily insisted yesterday that he was not the couple’s ‘friend, spokesperson, cheerleader’ as he testified before the High Court for the prince. Pictured: Mr Scobie arriving at the High Court in London today
Prince Harry (pictured with 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 hacking other illegal information. The newspaper 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 reporting. The newspaper denies the claims.
The court heard that when he was a journalism student in 2002, Mr Scobie had a work experience at the Daily Mirror, where he claimed to have seen Piers Morgan, then editor, being told a story about Kylie Minogue “came from voicemails”.
Mr Scobie claimed to have overheard the conversation between the editor and the women who ran his ‘3am Girls’ showbiz column, with whom he was ‘captivated’.
The royal reporter also said that when he did his work experience at The People a few weeks earlier, he was given a list of celebrity cellphone numbers and shown how to access voicemails.
He had been “taken aback by what seemed completely immoral and I never completed the task”, the judge was told.
Mr Scobie dismissed suggestions that he had either ‘innocently created a false memory’ or knowingly fabricated one.
The newspapers’ KC Andrew Green told him, “Mr. Scobie, that incident didn’t happen, did it?” No journalist would have asked you, a student intern for a week, to hack into phones.
Mr Scobie, author of gushing biography Finding Freedom (pictured), has repeatedly dismissed suggestions that his ‘sympathies’ belong to Harry
Mr Scobie told the court he had ‘never socialized’ with Prince Harry, adding he was ‘literally a member of the press’ doing his job.
Mr Scobie said: ‘You’d be surprised what happens’, adding that he took offense to the suggestion.
Mr Green said Mr Scobie was close to Harry and Meghan and his career had benefited from his unparalleled access to the couple, which was the subject of his ‘relentlessly flattering’ 2020 book Finding Freedom.
Mr Green said: ‘You have every interest in helping the Duke of Sussex, given the opportunity, don’t you?’
Mr Scobie, editor of Harper’s Bazaar magazine and royal contributor to ABC News and Good Morning America, hit back: “No. Because what I’m doing now is giving the tabloids ammunition to call me their friend .
“I never socialized with him. I’m literally a member of the press doing my job.
“I’m called friend, spokesperson, cheerleader – while my approach is no different to any other royal correspondent with an area of interest.”
Mr Scobie was challenged on 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 wrote to her father Thomas Markle, Mr Scobie said insisted that 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 through their press spokesperson, to which the author retorted: ‘Are you you saying that the royal family collaborates with the press every time a question is put to a communications assistant?”
In the first week of the seven-week trial, the court was told Prince Harry was “very far” from proving “outlandish allegations” that he was hacked by publisher Mirror.
The newspaper group called parts of the Duke of Sussex’s case “ambitious and unrealistic” and beset with “completely non-existent” evidence.
Harry and three others claim they were targeted by reporters on Mirror headlines during an ‘industry-scale’ period of illegal news gathering, including phone hacking in the 1990s and 2000s.
The case continues.