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Prince Harry

Prince Harry in UK court for privacy case against Daily Mail publisher

Prince Harry in UK court for privacy case against Daily Mail publisher
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala at New York Hilton on December 06, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala)

LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Britain's Prince Harry made a surprise appearance at London's High Court on Monday as he and six other high profile figures began their lawsuit against the publisher of the Daily Mail paper over years of alleged phone-tapping and privacy breaches.

Harry, the younger son of King Charles, has brought a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers, as have singer Elton John, his husband and filmmaker David Furnish, and actors Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost.

The prince, who flew in from his Californian home, sat just feet away from a large group of reporters. Frost was also in court. None of the claimants are expected to speak during the four-day preliminary hearing.

They allege they were victims of “numerous unlawful acts” carried out by Associated Newspaper titles the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, their lawyers said in extracts of submissions made to the court.

These included hacking mobile phone messages, bugging calls, getting private information such as medical records by deception or “blagging”, using private investigators to unlawfully obtain information, and “even commissioning the breaking and entry into private property”, according to the extracts.

The alleged activity ran from 1993 to 2011, “even continuing beyond until 2018”, the lawyers said.

Associated Newspapers has said it “utterly and unambiguously” denies the allegations. It is seeking to have the case thrown out.

In court submissions, it said the claims were based on inference rather than evidence, and that the claimants had provided little or no evidence of unlawful information gathering by its journalists – which it strongly denies.

The claimants argue the evidence is compelling and should be determined at a trial.

 

PHONE-HACKING

Another claimant in the case is Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a 1993 racist attack. She was later made a baroness for her campaigning work.

The Mail had championed bringing her son’s killers to justice and said the allegations involving her were “appalling and utterly groundless smears”.

In a statement last October, a spokesman for Associated Newspapers said the publisher had “the greatest respect and admiration” for Lawrence and was saddened she had been persuaded to join the action by “whoever is cynically and unscrupulously orchestrating these claims”.

Prince Harry is already involved in a libel case against the Mail on Sunday over an article about his security arrangements – a case the paper is contesting. Last year he won damages from the same paper after another defamation claim.

His wife Meghan also won a privacy case against the publisher in 2021 for printing a letter she had written to her estranged father.

Meanwhile, Harry is expected to appear in court in May to give evidence in a libel trial against the Daily Mirror newspaper over accusations of phone-hacking, which that paper is also contesting.

Outrage over reporters hacking voicemail messages led to the closure of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid in 2011, the jailing of its former editor and a lengthy public inquiry into press standards.

Media intrusion was one of the reasons Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, cited for stepping back from royal duties and moving to California to forge new lives and careers.

They attacked the press in their recent six-part Netflix documentary series and in Harry’s memoir “Spare”, while also accusing other royals of collaborating with newspapers over some false stories.

The fallout from those claims, about which Buckingham Palace has not commented, goes on. Harry is not expected to see his elder brother William while he is in London as the heir-to-the-throne is away for school holidays.

By Michael Holden and Sam Tobin

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Andrew Heavens)

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