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Friday, November 20, 1998 Published at 07:39 GMT


Formal complaint over Harry story

Charles and Harry: A father's anger

The Prince of Wales is to make a formal complaint against The Mirror newspaper over its story about a minor sports injury suffered by Prince Harry.

The announcement of a formal approach to the Press Complaints Commission follows the refusal by the paper's editor, Piers Morgan, to apologise at the request of Prince Charles.

The BBC's Khalid Javed: "Prince Charles has had enough"
Mr Morgan denied the prince's claim that the article was "intrusive and trivial" and accused him of trying to "bully and censor the press".

A statement from Prince Charles' office responded: "We respect what Mr Morgan says about press freedom. Indeed, we support it.

"However, we have to say that this matter is nothing at all to do with press freedom. Instead, it is everything to do with the privacy to which Harry and William are entitled during their education.

"It is about their ability to grow up without the telescope of publicity bearing down on their every move.

"We are therefore making a formal complaint about this matter to the Press Complaints Commission which, with newspaper editors, has done a great deal over the years to protect the privacy of Prince William and Prince Harry, and will ask them to deal with it."

Piers Morgan: "It stinks of hypocrisy"
The offending article reproduced a copy of a letter from Prince Charles' press officer and claimed that St James's Palace was insisting on a complete "news blackout" on the accident because it was "not in the public interest" and would invade Harry's privacy if published.

Details of the accident were blacked out in the letter as reproduced in the paper.

'No public interest'

The prince's letter, written on his behalf by his private secretary, Stephen Lamport, lambasts Mr Morgan for publishing "the third trivial and intrusive story about Prince Harry since he started at Eton just two months ago.

[ image: The story that offended the prince]
The story that offended the prince
"Despite your argument that the public has a right to know about the health of Prince Harry, I can assure you that there was absolutely no public interest whatever in the very minor bruising which Harry sustained - of the kind which can happen to children up and down the country on the playing field.

"Indeed, each of the stories you have run about him concerned events which happen to many other children.

[ image: Charles was also infuriated by a story about Harry's hair]
Charles was also infuriated by a story about Harry's hair
"Yet you sensationalise them to an extent which makes it very difficult for Prince Harry to have a normal life at his school.

"It seems to me that this breaches completely the spirit and substance of the undertaking made by all the country's national and regional newspapers to allow Prince William and Prince Harry the privacy they need in which to grow up."

Editor attacks Charles

Mr Morgan said he did not believe the request for a public apology was "appropriate".

[ image: Piers Morgan: Defiant response]
Piers Morgan: Defiant response
He said the press had behaved "impeccably" to both the Prince's sons since the death of their mother.

Jennie Bond: The Mirror is not backing down
"Your letter is a thinly disguised attempt to bully and censor the press," he said.

Mr Morgan said that the prince's complaint was strange as "we didn't actually publish the information because you asked us not to".

[ image: The Mirror accuses the prince of trying to censor the press]
The Mirror accuses the prince of trying to censor the press
He added: "Indeed several of our rival papers DID reveal what happened to him but you have bizarrely chosen to criticise us instead."

The story had been in the public interest as he believed Harry had been wearing a sling.

"The public are surely entitled to know if such a senior member of the Royal Family is injured," he said.

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