Part of Harry's claim against The Sun publisher can go to trial - but not phone hacking

Prince Harry is preparing for a court showdown with The Sun's publisher, but phone hacking will not be included in the duke's claims, as ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry reports

The Duke of Sussex's claims against the publisher of The Sun over phone hacking will not be allowed to be brought to trial, but the rest of his claim can, a judge has decided.

Mr Justice Fancourt ruled on Thursday that Harry, 38, can not bring his claim against News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun and now-defunct News Of The World, in relation to phone hacking.

However the judge said the rest of his claim, relating to other allegations of unlawful information gathering such as use of private investigators, could be tried in January next year.

He refused to allow the duke to amend his case to rely on a “secret agreement” between Buckingham Palace and senior NGN executives.

Mr Justice Fancourt’s ruling comes after a hearing in April, where NGN asked the judge to throw out Harry's case, arguing it was brought too late because he should have known sooner he had a potential claim.

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.”

Hugh Grant is suing NGN in relation to The Sun only. Credit: PA

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.

The Duke of Sussex with his barrister David Sherborne. Credit: PA

“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.”

In May, the same judge ruled that a claim by actor Hugh Grant over alleged unlawful information gathering – other than allegations of phone hacking – can go ahead to be tried next January.

Grant, 62, is suing NGN in relation to The Sun only, having previously settled a claim with the publisher in 2012 relating to the News Of The World.

NGN has previously settled a number of claims since the phone-hacking scandal broke in relation to the News of the World, which closed in 2011, but has consistently denied unlawful information gathering took place at The Sun.

Harry has been involved in six legal battles at the High Court in recent months.

His civil litigation has seen him bring claims against three major newspaper publishers over allegations of unlawful information gathering, as well as legal challenges against the Home Office in relation to his personal security.

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