After that, Ikea “tried to prevent more strikes by turning to a system of espionage,” said Vincent Lecourt, a lawyer for one of the store’s French unions. Ikea managers set up a surveillance net to gather information to fire Mr. Amara and curb militant union activity, plaintiffs’ lawyers said.

GSG, a French security company hired by Mr. Paris, advised Ikea to set a “legal trap” for Mr. Amara, and sent one of its agents to pose as a cashier, court documents showed. The mole infiltrated workers’ ranks, reporting conversations with Mr. Amara and his wife, also an Ikea employee, while spying on a number of other union activists.

“Their plan was to infiltrate the unions and explode them from the inside,” Mr. Lecourt said.

Mr. Paris also hired a bodyguard disguised as an administrative assistant with the goal, he testified, of protecting officials who claimed that Mr. Amara had harassed them. Mr. Amara was later found liable by a criminal judge for moral harassment after Ikea France filed a complaint.

Mr. Daoud, Ikea France’s lawyer, said there was no proof of the unions’ allegations. “There was no hunting down of union members,” he said.

That claim has not doused a sense of injustice among workers who said they were forever marked by the moment they learned their employer was spying on them.

Soon after Ikea fired Mr. Amara in 2011, he said in an interview, a USB stick was delivered to his home by a person who refused to identify himself, containing the explosive email trove that became the basis of the lawsuit.

The documents included receipts of nearly €1 million for surveillance operations, as well as a 55-page internal report on Mr. Amara’s union activities, personal situation and legal records dating to when he was a teenager. There were lists naming hundreds of job applicants and employees to undergo undisclosed checks, as well as the orders to investigate some customers.

“That’s when I understood that Ikea was spying this whole time, and that it was a regular practice,” Mr. Amara said. “It was absolutely surreal.”

Mr. Amara said he took the USB stick to French news outlets, he said, unleashing the media firestorm around Ikea France that led to police investigations and the current trial.

“Ikea acted as if it was all powerful over its employees,” he said.

“If Ikea hadn’t been exposed,” he added, “it would have just kept going.”

Gaëlle Fournier contributed reporting.

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‘The Sun’ Paid For Improperly Obtained Meghan Markle Personal Data

The Mail article, and the various articles in The Sun, appeared in the first week of November, 2016. Days later, Prince Harry’s office issued an extraordinary statement declaring that Ms. Markle had been “subject to a wave of abuse and harassment” and that “nearly every friend, co-worker and loved one in her life” had been pursued, and in some cases offered money for interviews, by members of the British news media.

The couple have been at war with the tabloids ever since. In addition to Harry’s lawsuit, Meghan filed her own suit against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, accusing it of violating her privacy by publishing an anguished letter she sent to her estranged father. In February, a High Court in London ruled in her favor.

On Thursday, Harry and Meghan, who are also known as the duke and duchess of Sussex, said in a statement that Mr. Portley-Hanks’ claims showed “that the predatory practices of days past are still ongoing, reaping irreversible damage for families and relationships.”

Harry has often blamed the tabloids for the death of his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997 after a high-speed pursuit by paparazzi. He even attributed his and Meghan’s decision to withdraw from royal duties and leave Britain in part to the unrelenting scrutiny of the news media.

“We all know what the British press can be like, and it was destroying my mental health,” Harry said to the British talk-show host, James Corden, last month. “I was, like, this is toxic. So, I did what any husband and what any father would do — I need to get my family out of here.”

He and Meghan made similar claims in their explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this month. Mr. Portley-Hanks, who said he had already come to regret his actions, said those comments deepened his sense of remorse for his role in helping to steer the tabloids to Ms. Markle and members of her family.

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