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HomeCourtsPrince Harry to take The Sun to High Court next year

Prince Harry to take The Sun to High Court next year

The Duke of Sussex is to take The Sun’s publisher to court over claims it used illegal methods to gather information on him.

Prince Harry’s case could go to trial in the High Court next year after a judge ruled on Thursday that parts of his claim could proceed.

While his allegations of some illegal methods will go to trial, a judge dismissed his phone-hacking claims.

News Group Newspapers (NGN) has denied Harry’s allegations.

Prince Harry has alleged that journalists and private investigators working for The Sun and now-defunct News of the World used unlawful methods to obtain information about him.

Lawyers for NGN have argued that he waited too long to bring the claim, and said it should therefore be dismissed.

The court previously heard Harry claim that a “secret agreement” was struck between Buckingham Palace and the newspaper company which had prevented him taking legal action sooner.

Now a judge has ruled that the part of Harry’s claims which relates to various alleged illegal newsgathering methods can go to trial – but his allegations about phone hacking cannot.

A spokesperson for NGN called the ruling a “significant victory” for the company.

They said: “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.”

In March 2023, Harry claimed in a witness statement that a deal between royal aides and senior executives at NGN stipulated he should delay any legal action against the company, at which time privacy breaches would be admitted or settled with an apology.

He relied on the supposed agreement to explain why he had not brought his claim years earlier, and to refute NGN’s defence that he had waited too long to seek damages.

Lawyer’s for NGN have previously disputed the existence of any secret agreement, describing it as “Alice in Wonderland stuff”.

In the summary of his judgement, Mr Justice Fancourt said Harry’s amended case submitted earlier this year – which was reliant on the existence of the agreement – “did not reach the necessary threshold of plausibility and cogency”.

But the judge ruled in Harry’s favour on whether there should be a trial around other alleged methods used to get information about him, identified in the ruling as “blagging of confidential information from third parties, and instructing private investigators to do these or other unlawful acts”.

Under the law, claimants have six years to bring a privacy claim.

The judge said Harry had a “realistically arguable” case that he did not and could not know enough about any use of the methods back in September 2013, the point at which NGN argue that his six-year window to bring a claim began.

Harry says he did not have enough information to bring a claim until 2018.

The ruling said it does not take a position on whether Harry waited too long to bring a valid claim, only that “it is not sufficiently clear at this stage that it was issued too late” and should be decided at trial.

The trial will take place in 2024 or 2025.

(Source: BBC)

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