Harry and Meghan condemn ‘predatory practices’ as investigator for The Sun admits unlawful actions

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read
NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01:  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle go on a walk about at Nottingham Contemporary on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham, England.  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement on Monday 27th November 2017 and will marry at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in May 2018.  (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on a walk about in Nottingham in December 2017. The Sun worked with an investigator before they married. (WireImage)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have condemned "predatory practices" after a US private investigator claimed he used unlawful tactics to get information about Meghan and her family before she married Harry.

Dan ‘Danno’ Hanks has apologised to the Duchess of Sussex and the Queen for targeting Meghan and her family when he was hired by The Sun to find out information about her.

He was hired when Meghan was first dating Harry, according to Byline Investigates, and managed to obtain her social security number, email addresses, and car registrations, not just for Meghan but for her family and associates.

While Hanks has apologised, a statement from The Sun, which is part of News Group Newspapers, said no one had commissioned him to carry out any illegal activity.

According to the New York Times, Hanks used a legal system to find the information which he presented to The Sun, but he broke US privacy statutes by sharing that information with the paper.

After the report emerged, a spokesman for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex 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."

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 21:  Meghan Markle arrives at the USA Network's
Meghan Markle at the Suits season 5 launch in 2016. She started dating Harry the same year. (FilmMagic)

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Hanks told 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.

"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."

Hanks 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."

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The BBC reported it has seen papers which Hanks was asked to sign in which he promised to act lawfully, something he repeated when he billed them for the work.

However Hanks claimed he was not asked where the information had come from when he filed the report.

But NGN has insisted no one asked Hanks to do anything illegal.

In its statement NGN said: “In 2016, The Sun made a legitimate request of Mr Hanks to research contact details and addresses for Meghan Markle and possible relatives using legal databases which he had a licence to use. He was paid 250 dollars.

“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 information he provided could not and did not raise any concerns that he had used illegal practices to obtain the information.

“At no time did The Sun request the social security number of Meghan Markle, nor use the information he provided for any unlawful practice.

“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.”

Hanks worked as a private investigator for 40 years and was jailed four times, according to the BBC. He is now retired.

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