Harry vs The Tabloids: What legal claims has the Duke of Sussex brought?

Harry is set to appear as a witness in June. Credit: PA

A trial in one of the Duke of Sussex’s legal battles is set to begin at the High Court in London.

Harry is one of a number of high-profile figures bringing damages claims against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over alleged unlawful information gathering at its titles.

The trial – expected to last up to seven weeks – is due to begin on Wednesday, with the duke set to appear as a witness in June. But this is not the first time Harry has been involved with the courts.

These are the legal cases the duke has been involved in over the last few years.

Alleged unlawful information gathering at Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN)

A small number of “representative” claimants were previously selected as “test cases” for the trial starting on Wednesday, including the duke.

The court previously heard that Harry’s case is that 148 articles published between 1996 and 2010 included information that was allegedly obtained through unlawful means, including phone hacking.

The other claimants selected for trial are former Coronation Street actress Nikki Sanderson, comedian Paul Whitehouse’s ex-wife Fiona Wightman, and actor Michael Turner.

MGN is contesting the claims, arguing that some have been brought too late.

Prince Harry has long been frustrated by tabloid intrusions into his life. Credit: PA

Privacy claim against Splash News and Picture Agency

In May 2019, Harry accepted substantial damages and an apology from a news agency which took pictures of his home in the Cotswolds from a helicopter.

Harry settled privacy and data protection claims against Splash News and Picture Agency over photographs “of and into the living area and dining area of the home and directly into the bedroom”.

The court heard Splash agreed to pay damages and legal costs.

Legal action against the Home Office

The duke is bringing legal action against the Home Office over the security arrangements for himself and his family when they are in the UK.

He is challenging the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) – which falls under the remit of the Home Office – over his security.

The duke had been told he would no longer be given the “same degree” of personal protective security when visiting.

The duke’s legal team argue that the security arrangements set out in a letter from Ravec, and their application when he visited the UK in June 2021, were invalid due to “procedural unfairness” because he was not given an opportunity to make “informed representations beforehand”.

There will be a full High Court hearing to review the duke’s claim on a date still to be set.

Libel claim against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL)

The duke is bringing a libel claim against ANL – the publisher of the Daily Mail and The Mail On Sunday – over an article about his case against the Home Office.

The story was published online and in the newspaper in February 2022 under the headline: “Exclusive: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government over police bodyguards a secret… then – just minutes after the story broke – his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute”.

Justin Rushbrooke KC, for Harry, said the Mail On Sunday article “purported to reveal, in sensational terms” that information from court documents filed by the duke “contradicted public statements he had previously made about his willingness to pay for police protection for himself and his family whilst in the UK”.

ANL is contesting the claim, arguing the article expressed an “honest opinion” and did not cause “serious harm” to his reputation.

At a preliminary hearing in March, the High Court heard the duke’s bid to strike out ANL’s “honest opinion” defence or grant judgment in his favour on it.

A judgment is expected later this year.

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Alleged unlawful information gathering at News Group Newspapers (NGN)

Harry is suing News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World, over alleged unlawful information gathering.

The duke alleges he was targeted by journalists and private investigators working for the papers.

At a hearing in April, the publisher asked a judge to throw out his claim, arguing it was brought too late, along with a similar claim brought by Hugh Grant.

However, Harry’s lawyers said it is an attempt to go behind an alleged “secret agreement” between the royal family as an institution and NGN, which the duke was informed of in 2012.

NGN denies that such an agreement was in place.

A judgment is expected later this year.

Alleged unlawful information gathering at Associated Newspapers Limited

Harry is one of seven people, also including David Furnish, Sadie Frost, Liz Hurley and Sir Simon Hughes, bringing legal action against ANL over denied allegations it carried out or commissioned unlawful information gathering.

The allegations include hiring private investigators to place listening devices inside cars, “blagging” private records and accessing and recording private phone conversations.

ANL, which “firmly” denies the allegations, asked a judge to rule in its favour without a trial, arguing the legal challenges against it were brought “far too late”.

A judgment is expected later this year.

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