Prince Harry Is Set To Return To The UK Next Month For A Very Non-Royal Reason
Prince Harry will coming back to the U.K. once again in June as his next court case against the press kicks off.
This is just one of seven known lawsuits he and his wife Meghan Markle have filed against media companies both in the U.K. and the U.S. in recent years – but this time, the Duke of Sussex will take to the stand as a witness in the trial.
Here’s what you need to know…
What is this legal case about?
This case is against the publisher of the Daily Mirror, the Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), over allegations of previous phone-hacking.
Harry first launched this lawsuit back in 2019, but it’s only going to trial now.
The lawsuit refers to articles published between 1996 and 2011 which feature information supposedly obtained through unlawful means (e.g. phone hacking).
While his team raised 148 articles as evidence, only around 33 will be included in the trial.
Harry’s lawyers say those close to him were also targeted, including his father King Charles and the late TV presenter Caroline Flack, with whom he briefly dated.
The case is set to last for six or seven weeks, and will take place at the High Court in London.
Why is Harry going to give evidence?
A “representative” selection of the wider group of claimants will be giving evidence as “test trials.” Harry was one of those selected, so he will be taking to the witness stand in person against the publisher in June.
This will make him the first senior royal to give evidence in a courtroom since the 19th century.
This will also be Harry’s second appearance at the High Court in 2023, after he unexpectedly attended a preliminary hearing for a separate legal claim against Associated Newspapers Limited in March.
Actors Michael Turner and Nikki Sanderson, as well as comedian Paul Whitehouse’s ex-wife Fiona Wightman, have also been selected for trial.
Other claimants involved in the lawsuit include actor Ricky Tomlinson, former Girls Aloud member Cheryl, footballer and TV presenter Ian Wright and the estate of the late pop star George Michael.
What does the Mirror Group say?
The MGN, part of the publisher Reach, apologized for ordering the unlawful gathering of information on the first day of the case.
In court documents, the publisher admitted there was “some evidence of the instruction of third parties to engage in other types of UIG [unlawful information gathering] in respect of each of the claimants” and said it “warrants compensation.”
However, the publishers said it “entirely denied” the claim of actor, Michael Turner.
“MGN unreservedly apologises for all such instances of UIG, and assures the claimants that such conduct will never be repeated,” the publisher said.
The publisher’s lawyer continued: “This apology is not made with the tactical objective of reducing damages, MGN accepts that an apology at this stage will not have that effect, but is made because such conduct should never have occurred.”
However, MGN still denies allegations of voicemail interception in the cases being looked at it in the trial, and claims that some of the challenges it faces have been brought beyond a legal time limit.
MGN has previously acknowledged that phone hacking took place at some of its newspapers and has paid hundreds of millions of pounds in settlements.
Why does this case have anything to do with Piers Morgan?
Harry’s accusations are also expected to involve Piers Morgan, who was the editor of the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004.
Morgan is known as a high-profile critic of the Sussexes, having allegedly had a brief friendship with Meghan before she started dating Harry.
What is the Sussexes’ relationship with the tabloid press?
The duke has made his resentment of the press very clear, especially since he left the royal fold in 2020.
As he revealed in his memoir “Spare” and the promotional interviews around its release, his belief that the press had intruded into his life was one of many reasons he and his wife left the royal family and moved to the U.S.
He has also criticized the paparazzi due to their role in his mother Princess Diana’s death and claimed the tabloids operate in cahoots with the palace to manage which stories were actually published.
The Duke of Sussex has alleged that he is exposing media behavior to “save journalism as a profession,” and has made it clear it’s his “life’s work” to change the media landscape.
What other lawsuits have Harry and Meghan pursued against the media so far?
According to Reuters news agency, these are the lawsuits the Sussexes are known to have filed in recent years:
1. Harry has an ongoing case against the Associated Newspapers Limited, publisher of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, over allegations of phone-tapping and other unlawful activities. The publisher denies any wrongdoing and says the allegations have come too late, so the case should be thrown out.
2. In February 2022 Harry launched another lawsuit against Associated Newspapers over a Mail on Sunday article which accused him of trying to mislead the public about a legal spat with the government over his own security protection and trying to keep details of that case secret. The High Court said it was a defamatory article, but Harry still needs the ruling in his favour for the case to go to trial.
3. In September 2019 Harry filed a claim against News Group Newspapers – publishers of the Sun and the now defunct News of the World – accusing them of hacking voicemails on his phone. The case is not yet settled, and the publishers want to throw the case out.
4. Meghan won a claim against Associated Newspapers in February 2021 over the Mail on Sunday’s publication of extracts of a letter she wrote to her father back in 2018.
5. In July 2020, Harry and Meghan filed a U.S. lawsuit over claims photographers used drones to take “illegal” images of their son Prince Archie when he was at their private home. They reached a settlement that October, with an agreement to stop distributing the images and an apology.
6. In May 2019, Harry won damages and accepted an apology from Splash News and Picture Agency over aerial photos it had taken of his home in Oxfordshire.
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