Private eye claims he was paid

Image: DOMINIC LIPINSKI / Contributor / Getty Image

Private eye claims he was paid to illegally compile ‘Meghan dossier’

A private detective from Los Angeles recently said that he used illegal methods to obtain details on Meghan Markle back in 2016.

Private eye claims he was paid

Image: DOMINIC LIPINSKI / Contributor / Getty Image

A private detective recently said that he used illegal methods to obtain details on Meghan Markle back in 2016.

The news comes after Meghan and Prince Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey to detail their experience as senior members of the royal family. In the tell-all interview that was aired on 7 March, Meghan confessed how constantly being in the media’s spotlight ultimately affected her mental health.

Investigator says he illegally obtained information about Meghan

Now, according to The Independent, Daniel Hanks, a private detective based in Los Angeles, claims he used unlawful means to compile a dossier on Meghan in 2016 that included her phone number, addresses and social security number for The Sun.

The publisher of The Sun has subsequently denied breaching privacy laws after it paid Hanks in the early days of Meghan’s relationship with Prince Harry.

He told the BBC: “Pretty much everything I found out, they could find out themselves using legal means – with the exception of the social security numbers. When you have that information … it’s the key to the kingdom.”

News Group Newspapers said it paid Mr Hanks $250 (R3 669,50) “to research contact details and addresses for Meghan Markle and possible relatives using legal databases which he had a license to use”.

But, the publisher reiterated that “at no time” did it request Meghan’s social security number and said the information obtained was not used “for any unlawful practice”.

“Mr Hanks was not tasked to do anything illegal or breach any privacy laws – indeed he was instructed clearly in writing to act lawfully and he signed a legal undertaking that he would do so,” the publisher writes. ”The information he provided could not and did not raise any concerns that he had used illegal practices to obtain the information. The Sun abides by all laws and regulations and maintains strict protocols in relation to the obtaining of information from third parties. Strict compliance is in place to cover all our reporting.“

He also said that The Sun initially contacted him following the Leveson Inquiry into press standards and asked him to sign documents, which the BBC said it had seen, that committed him to act lawfully – an assurance he repeated when billing the newspaper for his work.

But Hanks claimed he was not asked where his information was obtained, adding: “They didn’t care. They just wanted the information.”

Investigator apologises to Meghan Markle – and the Queen

Speaking exclusively to Byline Investigates, Hanks has made a public apology to the Duchess of Sussex for breaching her family’s privacy, and enabling The Sun to fuel the royal feud that has left deep scars.

Hanks said: “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 apologise to The Queen, because I realise the harm of what I did for The Sun has affected the whole family.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry responds

Responding to the story, Meghan and Harry said in a statement: “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.”