- A private investigator said he illegally obtained Meghan Markle's personal information in 2016, including her cell phone number and her social security number.
- Dan Hanks said he illegally accessed the information while working for British tabloid the Sun.
- Meghan and Harry said the news "shows that the predatory [media] practices of days past are still ongoing, reaping irreversible damage for families and relationships."
A Los Angeles private investigator has said he illegally obtained personal information about Meghan Markle while working for British tabloid the Sun, as the Guardian reports. Speaking to website Byline Investigates, Dan Hanks said he produced a 90-page report on Meghan in October 2016, after news of her relationship with Prince Harry leaked to the paper, and sent it to the Sun's U.S. editor, James Beal.
Information included in the report? Meghan's cell phone number and the numbers of several of her relatives, background information on her ex-husband, and Meghan's social security number. Hanks said he retrieved the information from a database that licensed private investigators are permitted to access, but not on behalf of news organizations, making his actions illegal.
Hanks said the Sun must have known the information was illegally obtained, telling the New York Times that the paper made him sign a letter stating that he would not use illegal methods before adding, "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."
The Sun's publishers, News Group Newspapers, denied Hanks' allegations, saying in a statement to the Times, "He was instructed clearly in writing to act lawfully and he signed a legal undertaking that he would do so."
Hanks apologized to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for accessing Meghan's personal information, telling 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." He added, "I also wanted to take this opportunity to apologize to The Queen, because I realise the harm of what I did for The Sun has affected the whole family."
In a statement to the Guardian, the Sussexes said, "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 statement continued.