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By Haley Ott, Tucker Reals
/ CBS News
London — A judge at the London High Court said Thursday that a lawsuit brought by Prince Harry against the publisher of The Sun tabloid could go to trial, rejecting the newspaper’s bid to have the case thrown out on the grounds that it was brought too late. The prince claims News Group Newspapers publications including The Sun used illegal methods to obtain information about him, including phone hacking.
This case isn’t the only legal action Harry is currently involved in against Britain’s tabloid press, however. Here are the legal battles King Charles III’s second son is taking part in:
Prince Harry launched legal proceedings against News Group Newspapers (NGN), which publishes The Sun and used to publish the now-defunct News of the World, in September 2019, accusing its journalists of unlawfully hacking his voicemails.
NGN, owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, had argued the claims were brought too late and should be thrown out under the U.K.’s six-year statute of limitations, but Harry argued the delay was due to a , which NGN has denied the existence of.
The Duke of Sussex alleged the publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World had hacked his phone and used investigators and deception to unlawfully gather information on him dating back two decades.
On Thursday, London High Court Justice Timothy Fancourt ruled in favor of NGN, accepting that Harry was well aware of the phone hacking scandal years ago and could have brought his case sooner, but he said he would allow the prince to proceed with the case on claims about other unlawful actions, including the newspapers’ using private investigators to snoop on him.
Prince Harry in June in the same London court as part of a case against the publisher Mirror Group Newspapers, claiming voicemail hacking and other illegal information gathering activities. It was the first time a senior member of Britain’s royal family had offered court testimony since the 19th century.
The civil suit that saw Prince Harry take the stand involves cases from Harry and three other well-known British claimants. It alleges that journalists working for Mirror Group Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mirror tabloid, gathered information about the prince unlawfully, including by hacking into voicemails.
It involves 207 newspaper articles published between 1991 and 2011, though only 33 articles relating to Prince Harry will be considered in court.
The claimants argue that senior executives including Piers Morgan — who edited the Daily Mirror newspaper from 1995 to 2004 — knew of the illegal activities. Morgan has denied any knowledge of such activities.
MGN has previously admitted that phone hacking took place at its tabloids, but its lawyer denied that 28 of the 33 articles involving Harry used unlawfully-gathered information. He said the group had “not admitted” that the other five articles involved unlawful information gathering, according to the BBC.
The suit is being heard before a judge, not a jury, and could result in a decision to award damages.
Prince Harry is among several claimants — including pop star Elton John — who is of the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday tabloids, Associated Newspapers (ANL) of using unlawful methods to gather information about them, including tapping phone calls and impersonating people to obtain medical information.
Lawyers for Harry and the other claimants say the alleged acts took place between 1993 and 2011, but that the behavior continued as late as 2018.
ANL denies wrongdoing by its journalists and says the cases should be thrown out because of the amount time that has passed.
Separately, Prince Harry alone is suing ANL for libel over an article about his legal battle with the U.K. government regarding his security arrangements.
The article, published in the Daily Mail in February last year, alleged Harry tried to keep his legal battle with the U.K. government a secret.
A judge ruled the article was defamatory, and Harry is seeking a decision without a trial.
The prince also from the same publisher over other articles two years ago in a separate libel lawsuit.
Haley Ott is an international reporter for CBS News based in London.
First published on June 7, 2023 / 7:41 AM
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