Prince Harry wins bid for trial against newspaper publisher in High Court privacy case

Prince Harry wins bid for trial against newspaper publisher in High Court privacy case

Now, onto the royal saga. The Duke of Sussex has received the green signal to proceed with his High Court privacy case against the publisher of the Daily Mail.

Prince Harry, aged 39, stands among seven distinguished claimants, a group featuring Sir Elton John and his spouse, David Furnish, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Sadie Frost, Elizabeth Hurley, and Sir Simon Hughes, collectively embroiled in legal action against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL).

The claimants allege that the publisher engaged in or commissioned illicit activities, such as deploying private investigators to implant listening devices inside vehicles, engaging in “blagging” of private records, and infiltrating and documenting private phone conversations.

During a hearing in March, ANL, staunchly denying the accusations, sought a judge’s ruling in its favor without a trial, asserting that the legal challenges were initiated “far too late.”

In a recent ruling, Mr. Justice Nicklin declared that ANL failed to deliver a decisive blow to the claims of any of these claimants.

In a collective statement, the legal representatives of Harry and others expressed their “delight” with the ruling.

ANL, in its response, stated: “As we have consistently asserted, the sensational claims made by Prince Harry and others of phone-hacking, landline-tapping, burglary, and sticky-window microphones are simply absurd, and we anticipate proving this in court in due course.”

Harry, crossing the ocean from California, made three appearances at the Royal Courts of Justice during the four-day hearing.

Justice Nicklin, in his exhaustive 95-page judgment, asserted that each claimant has a “real prospect” of demonstrating that ANL concealed “relevant facts” that could have enabled them to bring a claim against the publisher earlier.

He remarked: “In my judgment, each claimant has a real prospect of demonstrating that Associated, or those for whom Associated is responsible, concealed from him/her the relevant facts upon which a worthwhile claim of unlawful information gathering could have been advanced.

“While it is acknowledged that the publication of any illicit articles was not concealed, these, according to the claimants’ assertions, were merely the tip of the iceberg.

“What was intentionally obscured from the claimants – if their allegations hold true – were the underlying unlawful acts alleged to have been employed to gather information for subsequent publication.”

Segueing to the next segment, the judge noted that the group pursuing the legal challenges had “a real prospect of demonstrating not only that the unlawful acts themselves were concealed but also, in many instances, additional tactics were deployed in the published articles to divert the subject ‘off the scent’.”

He continued: “Several claimants lament that they believed their confidences were being betrayed by individuals in close proximity to them.

“Depending on the evidence presented, this could be a significant factor regarding both concealment and the juncture at which any claimant could reasonably be expected to initiate an inquiry into whether, in reality, the true source of private information in articles was unlawful information gathering rather than treacherous friendships.”

Moving forward, the judge concluded that the “fair resolution” of any dispute regarding the timing of the claims being brought “must await trial.”

Adrian Beltrami KC, representing ANL, asserted during the March hearing that the high-profile individuals could have exercised “reasonable diligence” to ascertain whether they had a potential claim before October 2016.

He conveyed to the court: “The claims are repudiated by the defendant in their entirety, as are the baseless allegations that the defendant either misled the Leveson Inquiry or concealed evidence from the Leveson Inquiry.”

The lawyer contended that the legal action against ANL possesses “no real prospects of succeeding” and is “barred” under a legal limitation period.

David Sherborne, advocating for Harry and others, rebutted that ANL’s attempt to halt the claims was as “ambitious as it is unattractive” and that each member of the group presented a “compelling case.”

Sherborne later recited excerpts from Baroness Lawrence’s witness statement, wherein she expressed feeling “played for a fool” by the Daily Mail, believing the newspaper “truly cared” about the injustice surrounding her son Stephen Lawrence’s 1993 murder.

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