Prince Harry: Legal battle between Sun publisher and Duke of Sussex will go to High Court trial
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Prince Harry alleges he was targeted by journalists and private investigators working for News Group Newspapers (NGN) titles and the now-defunct News of the World from the mid-1990s until 2016. Mr Justice Fancourt ruled on Thursday that Harry can not bring his claim in relation to phone hacking, however the rest of his claim could be tried in High Court.
Mr Justice Fancourt’s ruling comes after a hearing in April, where NGN asked the judge to throw out the duke’s case, arguing it was brought too late because he should have known sooner he had a potential claim. The judge also refused to allow the duke to amend his case to rely on a “secret agreement” between Buckingham Palace and senior NGN executives.
In his written ruling, the judge concluded: “I am satisfied that there is no reasonable prospect of the duke proving at trial that he did not know and could not with reasonable diligence have discovered facts that would show that he had a worthwhile claim for voicemail interception in relation to each of the News of the World and The Sun.”
“He already knew that in relation to the News Of The World, and he could easily have found out by making basic inquiries that he was likely to have a similar claim in relation to articles published by The Sun.”
A spokesperson for NGN said after the ruling: “The High Court has today, in a significant victory for News Group Newspapers, dismissed The Duke of Sussex’s phone hacking claims against both the News Of The World and The Sun. As we reach the tail end of litigation, NGN is drawing a line under disputed matters, some of which date back more than 20 years ago.
“In arguing his case, the Duke of Sussex had alleged a ‘secret agreement’ existed between him/Buckingham Palace and NGN which stopped NGN from asserting that the Duke’s claim had been brought too late. The Judge, Mr Justice Fancourt, found his claims in relation to the alleged ‘secret agreement’ were not plausible or credible. It is quite clear there was never any such agreement and it is only the Duke who has ever asserted there was.
“Mr Justice Fancourt then dismissed the duke’s phone hacking claims against both the News Of The World and The Sun on the grounds that the claim had been brought too late. This substantially reduces the scope of his legal claim. The exact nature and scope of any trial of the remainder will be the subject of further hearings.”