Prince Harry and Meghan Markle friend accuses British media of harassing his family with ‘fake gossip’
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s biographer, Omid Scobie, has accused the British media of harassing him and his family with “fake gossip”.
The journalist took to Twitter over the weekend to hit back at publications that have recently written about his career. His remarks came over a week after he told the High Court that he was taught how to hack voicemail messages while working at The Sunday People, a British tabloid acquired by Mirror. Scobie’s statement was part of the phone hacking case brought by a number of high-profile individuals, including the Duke of Sussex, against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).
In his tweet shared on 21 May, Scobie criticised the media for now targeting his family and peers.
“Bothering my friends, family, a lifetime of colleagues, inventing fake gossip to incite hate... all within days of me giving evidence in a media case?” he wrote. “Not a coincidence. Been down this road many times now, I know exactly who is up to what, and I’m not going anywhere.”
On 22 May, he then shared a tweet that seemingly responded to a piece thatThe Times recently published about him. The article was centred on his “rise” from a reporter at Heat magazine to his role and the Sussexes’ biographer.
Scobie expressed how he thought that the “fascination” around his job at Heat, where he worked for 11 months after college, was “bizarre”. He also claimed that it was a “toxic work environment” for him.
Bothering my friends, family, a lifetime of colleagues, inventing fake gossip to incite hate... all within days of me giving evidence in a media case? Not a coincidence. Been down this road many times now, I know exactly who is up to what, and I'm not going anywhere.
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) May 21, 2023
He noted that despite what “people’s intentions” appeared to be, he’s “not ashamed” of this job. He acknowledged that he had fun at Heat, as he wrote that “it was a blast covering red carpets every day and doing celebrity interviews”.
However, he still concluded his post by criticising outlets that have made allegations about a job he held more than 20 years ago.
“It just says a lot about certain sections of this industry that outlets would rather (repeatedly) put energy into trying to define someone by a job from two decades ago instead of focusing on the bigger, more newsworthy issues that have long plagued publishers and newsrooms such as that place,” he wrote.
The continued fascination some people have with my first job is bizarre. I worked at Heat magazine for 11 months after university (20 years ago!) and I quickly grew to hate it. My immediate boss there—now a columnist at a newspaper—would call me Paki as a "joke", repeatedly used…
— Omid Scobie (@scobie) May 22, 2023
The book author’s tweet appears to make references to the article about him by The Times. More specifically, the publication claimed that he “started partying with celebrities” at Heat magazine, before leaving his first job “after an executive called him a “P***” in emails,” Scobie reportedly claimed.
Scobie’s apparent response to the article came after he issued a witness statement in the phone hacking case against MGN. He claimed that while working at The Sunday People in 2002, he was given “a list of mobile numbers followed by a detailed verbal description of how to listen to voicemails, as if it were a routine newsgathering technique”.
“I was taken aback by what seemed completely immoral and I never carried out the task,” he said in the statement.
He also claimed that he overheard then-editor Piers Morgan ask the entertainment desk about a story relating to Kylie Minogue and her then-boyfriend James Gooding.
“Mr Morgan was asking how confident they were in the reporting and was told that the information had come from voicemails,” Scobie said. “I recall being surprised to hear this at the time, which is why it stuck in my mind.”
The royal correspondent later said he was a journalist “trying to do my job” amid claims he was a “cheerleader” for Harry and Meghan.
Meanwhile, Morgan has previously spoken out about the phone accusations. He strenuously denied knowing “anything about” phone hacking at the Mirror and said he “couldn’t give a monkey’s cuss” about the High Court case brought by Harry. During an interview with the BBC’s Amol Rajan in March, he noted that he only worked for the Daily Mirror and “never had any responsibility” for the Sunday Mirror or The Sunday People.
The Independent has contacted Scobie and Heat Magazine for comment.