Meghan Markle, Harry speak out on ‘media’s predatory practices’ after PI says he was told to get info illegally
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have broken their silence after a report claimed that a detective Daniel Portley-Hanks, was hired to get private information about the Duchess and her family by the British tabloid, The Sun. The story was first covered by Byline Investigates -- a team of journalists crowdfunded to cover stories that other media organizations won’t -- which was also shared with the BBC and the New York Times, who have also interviewed Portley-Hanks and also cross-checked his evidence.
The private investigator based out of Los Angeles, who has now retired, said he obtained information about the Duchess of Sussex and her family members for The Sun using illegal methods that included her phone number, addresses, and even her social security number by deception -- a criminal offense in the US, as it is in the UK. He also extracted information about the 39-year-old’s former husband and an ex-boyfriend. “Pretty much everything I found out they could find out themselves using legal means – with the exception of the social security numbers,” Portley-Hanks told BBC.
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After the shocking revelation was made, a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released a statement that read, “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex 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.”
The detective also spoke with The New York Times and told the publication that initially when he signed a letter for The Sun, he said he wouldn’t “use any illegal methods to locate people or do background checks,” but “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.” He also said to the publication that it was the March 7 interview of Meghan and Harry with Oprah Winfrey that inspired him to reveal the truth. “My relationship with tabloid media was purely about my pocketbook. Meghan Markle’s name didn’t mean anything to me. I had no idea she was connected to the royal family,” he said
In addition, Portley-Hanks told Byline Investigates: “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.”
Meanwhile, News Group Newspapers, the publishers of The Sun, sent a statement to BBC confirming that though they hired Portley-Hanks, they had no idea he was using illegal methods. The statement 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. 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.”