Mirror phone hacking case; what was the relationship between Princess Diana and Michael Barrymore?

The ongoing phone hacking case at a London high court reveals the relationship between Princess Diana and entertainer Michael Barrymore
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The court case between a number of high-profile names and the Mirror Newspapers Group continued today, with many eyes focused on tomorrow’s appearance by Harry, Duke of Sussex. The former prince was meant to be in attendance today, however chose to arrive a day later to spend time with his daughter, Princess Lilibet, who celebrated her birthday this weekend in Montecito. 

According to The Guardian, the move angered the judge, who had requested Harry be available to give evidence on Monday afternoon, only to be informed that the prince had stayed late in California so he could celebrate with his daughter, Princess Lilibet. The Mirror’s lawyers accused Harry of “wasting time” by failing to be ready to give evidence as a result of catching a flight from California only on Sunday evening.

But that took a side-bar today when it was revealed that the phone hacking that the Daily Mirror are accused of extended to another member of Harry’s family - his mother, the late Princess Diana. It wasn’t so much that her phone was hacked, given how much of a front-page tabloid figure for better or for worse Diana became, but more the other party involved with - former primetime television entertainer, Michael Barrymore.

In an apparent attempt to discover more about the pair’s “secret meetings,” counsel against the Mirror Newspaper Group have suggested that Piers Morgan’s tenure as editor of the Daily Mirror tried to hack into the phones from either of the two. The court also heard how the counsel felt Morgan was “disingenuous” with his comments in his autobiography regarding the pair, stating that he “heard rumours” about a friendship between Diana and Barrymore.

That led to David Sherbourne, representing Harry, to claim that how Morgan had “heard” the rumours “was obvious”, allegedging the real reason the editor knew so much about Diana’s friendship with Barrymore was because “the Mirror had been listening in to her messages”. For his part, Morgan has denied knowingly commissioning or using material from phone hacking.

Were Princess Diana and Michael Barrymore close?

Michael Barrymore recently shared some of the letters he received from Princess Diana on his TikTok account (Credit: Getty Images)Michael Barrymore recently shared some of the letters he received from Princess Diana on his TikTok account (Credit: Getty Images)
Michael Barrymore recently shared some of the letters he received from Princess Diana on his TikTok account (Credit: Getty Images)

The admission of messages between Princess Diana and Michael Barrymore might be a surprise to some, but it once again reflected the empathy Diana had for other people, especially those being publicly flogged in tabloid newspapers such as Barrymore when he chose to come out as gay in 1995 during a late-night live radio show.

According to The Guardian, “the high court heard that Diana had regularly talked to Barrymore in the months before her death, at a time when they were two of the most famous people in Britain. The television presenter was “struggling with coming out as gay”, as well as dealing with an addiction to alcohol and drugs.”

Extracts of some of her personal correspondence included a letter she sent to Barrymore in 1997, which read: “Dear Michael. What joy it was to finally meet you tonight. I did want to emphasise that I’m here for you – whenever. It’s very easy to pop round and see you or please telephone now you have my number. You’re doing just fine and believe me, I know. So take great care and lots of love from Diana.”

This was followed up months later as Diana wrote again to say she was “devastated” that details of their supposedly secret meetings had been obtained by the Daily Mirror. She apologised to Barrymore for the leak, expressing her disgust with the tabloid press and said she did not know how the news had come out, given “nobody knew about our conversations”.

Barrymore has since admitted that he did not reply to Princess Diana on this occasion, claiming he was isolated after repeated intrusions on his personal life by the press. However, taking to his TikTok account and sharing some of the penned correspondence between the two, Barrymore wrote that he was “privileged to have known Princess Diana as Diana”, adding that she was “the best friend that anyone could ask for”.

The two had a close relationship in the end, with Diana viewed as a confidant during Barrymore’s issues with drugs and alcohol, with Barrymore finding a kindred spirit in terms of tabloid intrusion in their collective personal lives. So close were Diana and Barrymore that the princess was believed to have cut short her holiday to return to London to comfort Barrymore when he was admitted to rehab in 1996. In her autobiography, Barrymore’s former wife Cheryl wrote that the entertainer called her from a Brixton gay club begging her to tell him that Diana had not died.

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