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Nikki Sanderson takes stand in Prince Harry court case

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Hollyoaks and former Coronation Street actress, Nikki Sanderson, is in court today.

Sanderson and Prince Harry are representative claimants of a wider group of celebrities, including Michael Turner (Michael Le Vell) and the estate of the late George Michael.

They claim that journalists at Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) were linked to phone hacking and the use of private investigators for unlawful actives.

MGN has denied all allegations of voicemail interception.

In his opening statement, Andrew Green KC, who is representing MGN said that Sanderson’s evidence of voicemail interception was “weak.”

However, prior to starting his cross-examination of the actress, Mr Green, said there were 4 occasions when MGN instructed private investigators to gather information about her.

He stated that MGN “unequivocally apologises to you for that” furthermore it “shouldn’t have happened and won’t again.” MGN denies targeting her on other occasions. 

Sanderson joined Coronation Street in 1999, when she was 15. The first article in her claim was written 4 years later, when she was 19 years old.

In a witness statement, she talked about the impact of some of the newspaper stories about her, particularly those that suggested she was “promiscuous.”

“Being made out to be bed-hopping and sleeping with three people in one week, as The Mirror suggested [in one of its articles] was so upsetting as it was so far removed from the truth,” read the statement.

“The backlash from the public was also very difficult and I was subjected to both mental and physical abuse. People would shout at me in the street, calling me a whore, a sl*g or a sl*t.

“People would elbow me, push me and, on one occasion, a group of girls even set my hair on fire.”

Sanderson said that articles had caused her to distrust the public as she felt that people were following her and selling stories to newspapers.

She also thought at one point that the press officer from Coronation Street was “leaking stories about me and I stopped sharing information about my private life with them as a result. I feel awful about this now.”

Tina O’Brien, who remains in Coronation Street also wrote a witness statement as part of Sanderson’s evidence. O’Brien settled her own claim against MGN in 2016.

In the statement she explained that they communicated via voicemail because text messaging was “slow and annoying” at the time. She said that there was odd behaviour on her phone, such as “clicking noises” and sounds of “other people on the line.”

She added the tabloids were keen to give the actresses a personality – “if they wanted you to be a partygoer, then you would be a partygoer.”

On Sanderson: “They sort of made up their little show of Nikki being this party girl and getting about a bit, which was not true.”

“It kind of feels like a toxic relationship; that we deserved that treatment from the media as we had gone into this job.”

MGN said that there was no evidence that Sanderson’s phone was hacked. The publisher also argued that she should have pursued legal action many years ago – due to rules that claims must be made within 6 years.

The case continues.

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