Why Prince Harry and Elton John are suing the Daily Mail

Prince Harry arrived in London unexpectedly on Monday to appear in Britain’s High Court in legal proceedings against the publisher of the Daily mail tabloid.

The Duke of Sussex joins six other high profile co-plaintiffs who are taking action against Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), which also publishes the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, alleging unlawful collection of their private information.

The group includes Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish, actors Sadie Frost and Elizabeth Hurley, former British MP Simon Highest, and Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, a British teenager murdered in a racist attack in 1993 .

A four-day preliminary hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice is currently underway, during which judges will decide whether the case proceeds further. The ANL should try to have the case thrown out.

The High Court heard on Monday that Harry said he had lost friends due to ‘paranoia’ over ‘illegal’ stories published in LNA newspapers. It is believed to be the first time the royal has visited London since Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in September, and is a sign of his involvement in the court case.

As the hearing unfolds, here’s what to know about the allegations made by the group.

What claims did the group make?

In a statement released by their representative law firm Hamlins in October 2022, the group said they took legal action when they became aware of “compelling and very distressing evidence that they were the victims of heinous criminal activity and gross violations of privacy”.

The statement further alleged that ANL had hired private investigators to place listening devices on the plaintiffs’ homes and cars. He also claimed that people were hired to “surreptitiously” listen in and record their private phone calls, and that police officers were paid for sensitive information.

Other allegations indicate that ANL employees accessed banking information by “illicit means” and impersonated others to secure confidential medical information.

At the time the allegations were made, the ANL called the allegations “absurd smears”. The publisher added that these were “unsubstantiated” and “defamatory” allegations without substantial evidence.

ANL lawyer Adrian Beltrami said in written submissions that the legal action was too late and “stale”. The alleged offenses took place from 1993 to 2011, with some cases continuing through 2018.

What other ongoing legal cases is Prince Harry involved in?

Talking to ITV’s Tom Bradby to promote his memoir Spare in January, Harry declared that reforming the British press was now his life’s work. He said the lawsuits are a campaign for “accountability”.

In his book, Harry said his father, King Charles, then Prince of Wales, described the British press as a “suicidal mission” in the hours following Prince Philip’s funeral. “Maybe. But worth it,” Harry wrote.

Monday’s lawsuit is one of three the Duke of Sussex has launched against British newspapers. An additional lawsuit filed in 2019 against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) by several public figures, including Harry, will go to trial in May. MGN publishes the DailyMirror and the Daily recordingamong other tabloids.

The lawsuit against MGN similarly alleges illegal information gathering through phone hacking. Other claimants include former Girls Aloud member Cheryl, the estate of the late singer George Michael and former footballer and presenter Ian Wright.

The Duke of Sussex also has an ongoing case with the LNA over an article published in February 2022, relating to a lawsuit he brought against the UK Home Office over security arrangements for when he and Meghan Markle are in the UK.

The February 2022 article, published in the Mail on Sunday, was headlined “Exclusive: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government a secret over police bodyguards… then – just minutes later as the story broke – his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute.

Last year a judge ruled that parts of the report were misleading and defamatory, but at a hearing in March the LNA challenged the verdict. The publisher said it was an “honest opinion” that did not seriously damage Harry’s reputation, and that the attempt to win the case without a trial was “totally baseless”.

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Write to Armani Syed at armani.syed@time.com.


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