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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have responded to new tabloid ‘predatory practices’


by Holly O'Neill
19th Mar 2021
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A private investigator has said that The Sun paid him to dig up private information about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

In their explosive tell-all Oprah interview, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry discussed the “invisible contract” the royal family share with British tabloids.“There is this invisible contract behind closed doors, behind the institution and U.K. tabloids,” said Prince Harry. “If you, as a family member, are willing to wine, dine, and give full access to these reporters, then you will get better press. The institution survives based on that perception.” Meghan added, “There’s a reason these tabloids have holiday parties at the palace.”

Now, Byline Investigates have shared the lengths the British press went to disparage Meghan, reporting in an exclusive shared with The New York Times and the BBC that The Sun hired an LA-based private investigator, Dan ‘Danno’ Hanks, to target Meghan. Daniel Portley-Hanks, a retired Los Angeles private investigator, told The New York Times that he was hired by The Sun who paid him $2,055 in 2016 to dig up information on the couple.

Dan Portley-Hanks says he illegally obtained contact information for Meghan and her family members, her social security number and private information about Meghan and her father that put The Sun on the trail to Meghan’s relationship with her father that continues to play out in the tabloids today. The private investigator says he had signed a letter for The Sun stating that he wouldn’t “use any illegal methods to locate people or do background checks,” he told The New York Times. “Then the reporters came back to me and said, ‘But if you want to get work, keep doing what you’ve been doing,’ with a nod and a wink.”

Meghan and Harry have released a statement through their spokesperson, saying; “The Duke and Duchess feel that today is an important moment of reflection for the media industry and society at large, as this investigative report shows that the predatory practices of days past are still ongoing, reaping irreversible damage for families and relationships. They are grateful to those working in media who stand for upholding the values of journalism, which are needed now more than ever before.”

Hanks has apologised to Meghan, saying, “I’m sorry to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry for targeting her family, particularly her dad, on behalf of The Sun. I never wanted to cause Meghan Markle harm, and wouldn’t have done the job if I’d have known it would lead to all these problems. I also wanted to take this opportunity to apologize to the Queen, because I realize the harm of what I did for The Sun has affected the whole family.”

In its statement, News Group Newspapers said, “In 2016, The Sun made a legitimate request of Mr Hanks to research contact details and addresses for Meghan Markle and possible relatives using legal databases which he had a license to use. He was paid 250 dollars. Mr Hanks was not tasked to do anything illegal or breach any privacy laws – indeed he was instructed clearly in writing to act lawfully and he signed a legal undertaking that he would do so. The information he provided could not and did not raise any concerns that he had used illegal practices to obtain the information. At no time did The Sun request the social security number of Meghan Markle, nor use the information he provided for any unlawful practice. The Sun abides by all laws and regulations and maintains strict protocols in relation to the obtaining of information from third parties. Strict compliance is in place to cover all our reporting.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been in conflict with the tabloids from the beginning of their relationship. Meghan previously filed her own suit against the publisher of The Mail on Sunday, for invasion of privacy by publishing a personal letter she sent to her estranged father. In February, a High Court in London ruled in her favour.

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