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Courting attention

Courting attention

Prince Harry, along with several other high-profile public figures, is taking legal action against Associated Newspapers at the High Court

Long Stories Short

  • Netflix is reportedly developing a new feature to bring its mobile games to the TV.
  • The new Booker Prize trophy has been named “Iris”, after 1978 winner Iris Murdoch. 
  • Stormy Daniels appeared on OnlyFans to confirm she’s ready to testify against Donald Trump.

Courting attention

by Liz Moseley
Additional reporting by Xavier Greenwood

Prince Harry’s choreographed “surprise” entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice was a power move. But this case is bigger than Harry. Some of the key dramatis personae didn’t even set foot in court this week.

So what? Harry calls changing the media landscape in Britain his “life’s work”. This week’s hearing against Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), is one of three legal cases (the others are against Rupert Murdoch’s News Group and Mirror Group Newspapers) which seek to put power, privacy and press accountability under scrutiny – again. 

The lowdown. Prince Harry, Elizabeth Hurley, Sadie Frost, Sir Elton John, David Furnish, Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Sir Simon Hughes allege “abhorrent criminal activity” and “gross breaches of privacy” committed against them by the Daily Mail publisher between 1993 and 2011, “even continuing beyond 2018”. The accusations go way beyond phone hacking to include breaking and entering, planting listening devices, and stealing medical documents and banking information. Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL) rejects the claims “in their entirety”. The identities of 73 current and former journalists at the Mail and Mail on Sunday will be kept anonymous for the time being.

Mr Justice Nicklin has to decide:

  • Whether to take it to trial: ANL says the claims have been brought too late and are “stale”. The claimants have to prove that “that they did not know, and could not reasonably have discovered” that they might have had a claim within the six-year limitation period.
  • Whether claimants can use certain information given to the Leveson Inquiry, which ANL argues is subject to a restriction order.

Up and down several flights of stairs and through a dozen doors is the small, distinctly un-regal court 76. Harry sat just metres from the press, taking notes in a small black notebook, resting his hands under his chin and drinking from a Pret water bottle. Sir Elton had to make do with a fold-up plastic chair, occasionally stifling a yawn and picking at his fingers. 

Who’s who

The Barrister: The second most important thing about David Sherborne, representing Team Harry, is his hair. The Guardian calls it a “metropolitan bouffant”. The most important thing is his reputation and record. He’s represented Diana, Princess of Wales, the Blairs, the Douglas-Zeta-Joneses and most recently came out swinging for Coleen Rooney at the Wagatha Christie trial. A key lawyer at the Leveson Inquiry, he interrogated Paul Dacre back in 2012. Sherborne insists that the Leveson documents referenced in his clients’ claims did not come from him. 

The Baroness: Doreen Lawrence alleges the Mail was spying on her throughout its much-lauded “Justice for Stephen Lawrence” campaign. Her statement is excoriating. “I cannot think of any act or conduct lower than stealing and exploiting information from a murder and from a mother who buried her son, and by people who pretended to be my friends.” 

The Rocket Man: Sir Elton John’s claim includes accusing ANL of “unlawfully obtaining” a copy of his child’s birth certificate before he’d even seen it. Elton has a history of winning cases against the British press including a £100,000 suit against the Mail in 2006 which falsely accused him of banning guests at his White Tie and Tiara ball from speaking to him. 

The Private Investigator: Gavin Burrows is one of a number of private investigators and agencies alleged to have been part of what the claim calls ANL’s “habitual and widespread” unlawful practices. His detailed statement is pivotal to the claimants’ case because of its timing – August 2021 – as much as its content. It even includes his price list – landline tapping, £2,000; breaking into and bugging a car, £2,500 to £3,000; finding out someone’s flight details, a bargain at £350. Burrows has made a more recent statement to ANL which appears to contradict his earlier one, “I was never commissioned by… the Mail on Sunday or the Daily Mail to conduct unlawful information gathering on their behalf.” 

The Editor: Paul Dacre, Daily Mail editor-in-chief between 1992 and 2018, wasn’t in court but is a key player in this saga. Here’s what Dacre said at Leveson on 6 February 2012, “let me say as clearly and as slowly as I can: I have never placed a story in the Daily Mail as a result of phone hacking that I knew came from phone hacking. I know of no cases of phone hacking.” 

The Poacher turned Gamekeeper: Tobyn Andreae has skin in the game, too. He enjoyed a 20-year career at the Daily Mail right up until he bagged a plush new job as Director of Communications for the King and Queen Consort late last year. His own profile is studiously low. 

The hearing ended on Thursday. Judge Nicklin said he would hand down his judgment “as soon as possible”. Take a deep breath – if this does go to trial, it’s unlikely to be over quickly.

The Nibs

(News in brief)

It’s complicated

Next gen nepo
Sofia Coppola’s 16 year-old daughter Romy Mars has inherited the family talent for filming. It’s just not clear whether she’s done it on purpose. A self-directed – and sadly now deleted – TikTok in which she tries and fails to make vodka pasta while grounded for “trying to charter a helicopter… on my dad’s credit card” has been hailed by critics from the BBC, Time and Jezebel. US comedian Zach Heltzel said, “If that video is satire, it’s brilliant. If it’s entirely unironic, it’s even more brilliant.” Nepograndbaby Romy isn’t allowed on social media because “they don’t want me to be a nepotism kid, but TikTok is not going to make me famous.” How wrong can one girl be? She goes on to introduce her babysitters: “My parents are never home so these are my replacement parents.” Ouch.

Power players

Escapism, escapism, escapism
When Matt Gibberd and Albert Hill launched cult online agency The Modern House in 2005, other estate agents didn’t get it. Now they hate it. If you own a house lovely enough to get listed, TMH gets 38 per cent more email leads and 101 per cent more detail views per listing than any other agent on the same property (Rightmove, to Mar 2021). All that interest turns into money – The Modern House listings fetch one per cent over asking price, compared to the national average of 4.5 per cent under it. Both former design journalists, Gibberd and Hill build their business like a magazine, with gorgeous photography and intoxicating tales of light-filled houses. “Houses are more than just a postcode and a number of bedrooms,” says Hill, who owns a 17th-century cottage in Wales and “a plain but honest” 1930s suburban extended semi. This week Gibberd and Hill were made Honorary Fellows of Riba for shaping the design world and “bringing about positive change.” So what will our homes look like next? “Definitely not over-tech’d,” predicts Hill. “So much of that tech homeware is a waste of time.” Step away from the smart fridge.

Who is…

Jean Arnault
The youngest member of the world’s richest family is on manoeuvres. Jean Arnault, the 24 year-old floppy-haired son of LVMH’s Bernard Arnault (personal wealth $219.7 billion) only joined the relatively new watch division of his dad’s luxury empire in September 2021. As marketing and development director he has already won two prizes at the Grand Prix d’Horologerie de Genève. His latest feat is reviving the Gérald Genta brand, which has been gathering dust for 20 years as part of Bulgari. Genta himself died in 2011 but his timepieces are the stuff of legend, particularly the 1970s Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. “It’s a super clever move,” says Tracey Llewellyn, editor of Telegraph Time, “because it allows Arnault to retain and attract the best watchmakers in the business.” Arnault has touchingly teamed up with Genta’s widow Evelyne Genta, the Monégasque ambassador to the Court of St James’s and the woman you need to impress should you wish to relocate to Monaco. “I am happy that we are moving forward with young people,” Madame Genta told the FT. “It feels like Gérald is coming home.”

It tickled us

Standing at the Sky’s edge
On the closing night of Richard Hawley’s musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge’s run at the National Theatre, the cast took part in this moving impromptu performance from the windows of their dressing rooms. The show is up for Best New Musical at the Olivier Awards, which will be announced tomorrow night (Sunday 2 April). An original cast recording of Standing at the Sky’s Edge is available to stream now.

Hello and welcome to

Hare brained
Tortoise is proud to introduce our new sister title Hare, founded on the principle that the only thing better than sensemaking is faster sensemaking. Over the past few years, some members have told us that as much as they love Tortoise, slow news is simply too slow. We’ve always taken member feedback seriously so our new optional extra service exclusively for members will be based out of a virtual newsroom in the metaverse. Hare members can join 15-minute ThinkIns every day and hoover up podcasts using cutting-edge “Luratech” recording technology which allows listeners to absorb audio reporting at double-speed. Tortoise will confirm the official launch date of Hare as quickly as we can. Log in, speed up.


Last of the famous international documentaries 

by Stephen Armstrong

Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields is Shields’s redemption documentary, exorcising the horrors of her youth – posing nude for Playboy aged ten, her under-age erotic movies (Louis Malle’s Pretty Baby, Randal Kleiser’s Blue Lagoon and Franco Zeffirelli’s Endless Love) and modelling semi-nude for Calvin Klein, in a career controlled by her alcoholic mother.

There are unsettling scenes as she recounts being raped by a Hollywood big shot when returning to films after graduating and her youthful embarrassment as lascivious TV presenters drooled while interviewing her, but she struggles the most when explaining to her daughters why she appeared naked as an 11 year-old prostitute having her virginity auctioned off. “That’s child abuse,” says one. 

It’s expertly directed by Lana Wilson, whose 2020 film Miss Americana saw Taylor Swift discuss eating disorders and sexual assault, and it joins truth-telling films on Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Pamela Anderson, among others. 

These women deserve to be heard. What’s springing up around this trend, however, is a strange world of documentary-making that’s at risk of damaging the form itself.

So what? Shields placed her trust in Wilson, but the celebrity documentary industry prefers to trust the celebrity. The gold rush for content has made the format ubiquitous. Most are produced with the starcelebrity’s management – why cooperate with one that makes for ’s a less PR-savvy story? US journalist Israel Daramola recounts a rapper walking out of an interview after difficult questions, saying: “why should I talk to you when I can just film my own movie, tell my story the way I want and get paid for it.”

Celebrity documentaries available now: Wahl Street (2021): “a glimpse into global star Mark Wahlberg’s life as he juggles the demands of his personal and professional worlds and hustles to grow his expanding business empire.” Love, Lizzo (2022): “an inspirational documentary about the multi-hyphenate superstar.” Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off (2022): “how he balances the demands of his extraordinary career with those of his personal life.”

Follow the money. Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine had a budget of $4 million. Streamers have recently paid a reported $20 million for Beyoncé, $25 million for Billie Eilish, and $30 million for Elton John. VIPs know that the market value of their story is in direct proportion to the amount of footage so many entourages now include a full-time videographer.

The start-up. Documentary producer XTR raised investment from Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia, Jared Kushner’s brother Josh and  Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. Founder Brian Mooser counts Elon Musk as “a dear friend and mentor” and says XTR is “eager to scale.” XTR’s biggest hit is They Call Me Magic, a docu-series about Magic Johnson for Apple TV+. 

The Golden Age. In 2008 Dan Cogan produced The End of America, inspired by Naomi Klein’s eponymous book on fascism in the US. In 2022 he was a producer on Harry & Meghan. “People talk about the golden age of documentary,” he said recently. “We left that three years ago. We now live in the corporate age of documentary.”

The Ribs

(Reviews in brief)


Shy by Max Porter (Faber, Apr 6)
Max Porter famously ran a branch of Daunt Books before his award-winning 2016 debut Grief is the Thing with Feathers. Shy, his fourth novel, has the same fragmented polyphonic structure and typographic games, spending a few hours in the mind of Shy, a troubled teenage boy at a crumbling institution. He sneaks out at midnight, sits through therapy sessions, remembers his difficult childhood and laces his chat with drum-n-bass slang, despite his privileged background. A chaotic, engaging and surprisingly warm study of male adolescence.

Max Porter will be reading from Shy at Kite festival, Kirtlington Park, June 10/11 this year. Tortoise members can save 25 per cent off tickets here.


Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd – Lana del Rey
Appreciating Lana Del Rey’s music has always taken a certain amount of acceptance; these are her songs, not yours. Her latest album is the masterpiece needed to show that such acceptance is mandatory. The richness of the sound remains grounded within her strength as a songwriter and the gauzy, droning vocals embody her lyrics. What’s always distinguished Lana is that her music describes what something feels like, rather than telling a story about what something is. Her third album, Ultraviolence, is an hour-long meditation on how much desire can mess with a person’s brain. In Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel, she creates a world where those feelings aren’t all-consuming, with songs that are not only beautiful to listen to but touch your heart and your brain at once.

Stolen Hearts (Wondery, out now) 
True crime podcasts are to the 2020s what home makeover shows were to the 90s. Nobody needs another one. Stolen Hearts is a decent effort to inject some wit and heart into this faintly exhausting and depressing genre. It starts with a tale as old as time – twice-divorced police woman falls for wealthy male grooming entrepreneur. It’s all Mozart and hotdogs until he commits armed robbery and everything goes south. Set in Wales, it’s a gratifyingly British production which enjoys defining Brit-specific terminology before each episode – Superdrug, “marmalade dropper”, Big Ben (not, in this case, the bell but a giant dildo). The script keeps things just-the-right-level of grubby with sharp details, like the police detective who boasts 12 Arsenal-themed ties. Not a barnstormer but good (and long) enough to liven things up if you’re training for a marathon.


Good Mothers, Disney+, 5 April
Disney’s intense dramatisation of three real-life women born into and ultimately conspiring to topple the notorious Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia is both terrifying and inspiring. It follows prosecutor Anna Colace, attempting to persuade Giuseppina Pesce (Valentina Bellè) and Maria Concetta Cacciola (Simona Distefano) to break from their abusive gangster husbands. Meanwhile mob daughter Lea Garofalo is murdered by her ex-partner, Carlo Cosco. Could her 17 year-old daughter, Denise, be persuaded to help? The joint UK/Italian production unites talent from The Crown, Baghdad Central and Medici with the producers of the heartbreaking My Brilliant Friend for a beautifully shot glimpse into the heart of darkness.


This week:

At a Tortoise pace

Bell ringer shortage sorted!
In February, Sebastian Hervas-Jones, 24, jacked in his job as a Tortoise reporter, binned his smart phone and set off on a renovated barge to spend 365 days discovering Britain. This is week five…

Dear Tortoise,

“How do I find activity and life?” I pondered, during a lonesome stroll in the quiet of the early afternoon. A wooden noticeboard staunchly perched on the green of the community library demanded my attention, ‘Abbots Langley Parish Council’ it proclaimed. On it, a list of magnificently bizarre situations I could dive into; ‘Knit and Natter, 1st Tuesday of the month 6:30pm’; ‘TONIGHT: Parish Council Meeting – Planning and Highways Committee – anyone welcome’; ‘WANTED: lollipop men’, and then, glaring at me – ‘Learn to ring church bells’. A couple days later, in the tower of an old church, I held a rope which dangled from a round hole in the ceiling – I followed the lead of Anne, a glorious old woman – and with all my might, yanked that rope – and, DONGG. My heart leaped. 



You can read more of Seb’s letters “home” here.

for your diary

01/04The Gilbert & George Centre, a new gallery and exhibition space dedicated to the eponymous artists, opens in London’s Spitalfields with the debut of their latest work

21/04-23/04 – Porthleven Food Festival returns to the Cornish fishing village in partnership with acclaimed chef Jude Kereama

AprilTaskmaster contestant Sophie Duker tours the UK with her first stand-up show, Haga gleefully chaotic journey through magic, sex, race, and queerness

19/05 The Second Woman, a 24-hour unrehearsed play featuring Olivier award-winning actress Ruth Wilson, is staged at The Young Vic, London

May – Boutique hotel The Tempus opens at Charlton Hall Estate, Northumberland, with interiors inspired by the Alice in Wonderland adage of being “utterly bonkers”

If you know someone you think would enjoy the Weekend Sensemaker, invite them to sign up here.

Editor: Jane Bruton 

Photographs courtesy Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images, The Modern House, Johan Persson, Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images, Disney+, Tom Pilston