Prince Harry accused of wasting court's time after failing to show up on first day of hacking trial

A judge has expressed his “surprise” over the Duke of Sussex’s absence from the High Court as his individual case against the publisher of the Daily Mirror over alleged unlawful information gathering got under way.

He was expected to arrive at court on Monday but his lawyers told the court he will not appear until Tuesday, when he is due to face cross-examination from MGN’s barrister.

David Sherborne, representing the duke and the other claimants, said as the hearing began on Monday that Harry had flown to the UK from Los Angeles in the US on last night, as he was celebrating his daughter Lilibet’s second birthday on Sunday.

Mr Justice Fancourt, the judge hearing the case, said he was “a little surprised” to hear the duke would not be attending court on Monday.

The judge said he gave a direction earlier in the trial that witnesses should be available the day before their evidence was due to be heard in case the legal teams’ opening speeches ran short.

Harry, 38, is suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for damages, claiming journalists at its titles, which also include the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, were linked to methods including phone hacking, so-called “blagging” or gaining information by deception and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.

His claim is being heard alongside three other “representative” claims during a trial which began last month and is due to last six to seven weeks.

Andrew Green KC, for MGN, said he wished to have at least a day and a half to cross examine the duke and was “deeply troubled” he would not be attending before Tuesday, which may lead to “wasted time” on Monday afternoon.

Harry alleges about 140 articles published between 1996 and 2010 contained information gathered using unlawful methods, and 33 of these have been selected to be considered at the trial.

MGN is contesting the claims and has either denied or not admitted each of them.

The publisher also argues some of the claimants have brought their legal action too late.

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