British tabloid hired private investigator to track Meghan Markle in 2016

UK tabloid, The Sun allegedly paid a private investigator more than $2,000 to get Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex’s personal information when word first spread that Prince Harry was dating her in 2016.

Receipts obtained by The New York Times showed that the British tabloid’s New York-based editor James Beal enlisted famed private detective Daniel Portley-Hanks, more commonly known as “Danno,” to help get the coveted information.

Portley-Hanks sold information on the former Meghan Markle and her family, including phone numbers, addresses and Social Security numbers to The Sun for $2,055, the Times reports.

Portley-Hanks, who is now retired but had a long career investigating celebrities, acknowledged that the information he provided the Sun resulted in several high-profile “exclusives” about the future duchess and her family.

The information also led to contact with Meghan’s estranged half-sister Samantha Markle, who called Meghan “shallow” and a “social climber,” and father Thomas Markle, with whom she also has a strained relationship.

It’s unlawful in the U.S. for private investigators to share personal information they uncover with news outlets.

“I strongly believe that James Beal knew that what I was providing him was obtained illegally,” Portley-Hanks told the Times.

The duke and duchess have had a fraught relationship with the UK’s tabloid press. During the couple’s recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, they said this had created a “toxic environment” of “control and fear” and was largely to blame for them leaving the UK.

Prince Harry is currently suing the publisher of the Sun, and the former publisher of the Daily Mirror, over allegations of phone hacking before 2011.