Prince Harry launches phone-hacking case against Sun and Mirror owners

Royal continues fight with UK newspapers after attacking treatment of his wife, Meghan

Prince Harry has issued legal proceedings against the owners of the Sun and the Daily Mirror over alleged phone hacking, in an escalation of his all-out war with the British newspaper industry.

The decision follows Harry’s strongly worded attack on the British media’s treatment of his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

Buckingham Palace confirmed claims had been filed at the high court regarding alleged illegal interception of voicemail messages. News Group, which published the News of the World until its closure as well as the Sun, confirmed a claim had been issued.

The claims could refer to historical cases. Harry and his brother, Prince William, were at the centre of a series of hacking allegations after it emerged in the early 2000s that tabloid journalists were routinely accessing public figures’ voicemails to find stories.

The claims were filed by Clintons, a law firm that has brought multiple phone-hacking claims in the past and won substantial payouts on behalf of its clients.

The filings were made days before Meghan launched a separate legal action against the Mail on Sunday for alleged breach of privacy and copyright infringement over its decision to publish a private letter she had sent to her estranged father.

Court filings of 27 September, first reported by Byline Investigates, suggest two separate claims were made in the prince’s name against Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers and the Reach plc subsidiary MGN Ltd last week.

Issuing proceedings is the first court step of possible legal action against a defendant. Once papers are lodged with the court, the claimant has four months to decide whether to proceed with the action by serving the defendant. Until that action has been taken, it would be possible for a defendant to be unaware of the content of the claim.

Meghan’s decision to sue the publisher of the Mail on Sunday – announced as Harry launched a deeply personal attack on the British tabloid press – was widely viewed as a significant shift in the couple’s approach to privacy issues.

In that case, Meghan and Harry, who are on a 10-day tour of southern Africa, employed the libel lawyers Schillings using private funds.

Harry accused parts of the media of “waging campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences”.

Emphasising his respect for the importance of “objective, truthful reporting”, he added: “Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one … I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person.

“I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

Hostilities between Harry and the tabloid press have been escalating since his relationship with Meghan began. When the story that the two were a couple broke, he criticised “racial overtones” in reporting.

Last week, it emerged he had complained to the BBC for broadcasting and publishing online an image from a neo-Nazi social media site that called him a “race traitor” and depicted the royal with a gun pointed at his head.

Although the BBC internally and the broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom, rejected the complaint, ruling the use of the image in a report about the activities of the group was in the public interest, the BBC apologised for not warning the prince in advance.


Jim Waterson and Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

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