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Lawyer wraps up Prince Harry's phone hacking case by grilling ex-tabloid reporter

LONDON -

A lawyer for Prince Harry finished setting out the royal's case against a newspaper publisher on Thursday, quizzing a former tabloid reporter about information inserted into stories by then-editor Piers Morgan.

On the final day of evidence, attorney David Sherborne grilled former Daily Mirror royal correspondent Jane Kerr, whose byline appears on several of the 33 articles cited by Harry as examples of unlawful intrusion by publisher Mirror Group Newspapers.

The lawyer suggested to Kerr that some of the information in her stories came from phone hacking.

"It absolutely didn't," Kerr said with a touch of anger.

"I've never intercepted a voicemail. I wouldn't even know how," Kerr added. She also denied knowing about lawbreaking by any freelance journalists or private investigators employed by the newspaper.

Kerr acknowledged in her written witness statement that Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004, "would occasionally direct or inject information into a story" without her knowing the source.

Asked by Sherborne about quotes in one story, she said: "I can't say for sure where I got them from, because I can't remember. It's possible Piers gave them to me."

Morgan has denied knowing about phone hacking at the Mirror, and the company is contesting Harry's claims. Mirror Group has previously paid more than 100 million pounds (US$125 million) to settle hundreds of unlawful information-gathering claims, and printed an apology to phone hacking victims in 2015.

Harry, who flew from his home in California to testify earlier in the week, was not at the High Court on Thursday. He spent a day and a half in the witness box on Tuesday and Wednesday answering questions about his claim that British tabloids had unlawfully snooped on his life throughout his childhood and young adulthood.

He alleges that the Mirror newspapers hacked phones, bugged vehicles and used other illicit methods to obtain personal information they splashed as royal scoops. He said the intrusion poisoned relations with friends, teachers and girlfriends -- and even caused friction with brother Prince William -- and led to "bouts of depression and paranoia."

Mirror Group Newspapers has apologized for one instance in which it hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on Harry, which was not among the claims he has brought. It either denies or does not admit his claims.

Harry, 38, is one of four claimants whose lawsuits against Mirror Group Newspapers are being heard together at the High Court in London. Hearings are due to last until the end of June, with the judge, Timothy Fancourt, likely to deliver his ruling several weeks later.

Harry left royal life in 2020, citing unbearable media scrutiny and alleged racism toward his wife, Meghan, and is on a mission to reform the British media. He is also suing two other newspaper publishers over alleged hacking.

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