LONDON: The publishers of two UK newspapers today lost a bid to have a case for unlawful information gathering brought against them by Prince Harry and others thrown out of court, opening the way for a possible trial.
Lawyers for Associated Newspapers (ANL) – publishers of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday – had argued that the claims were brought too late.
But in a written ruling, judge Matthew Nicklin disagreed and said the case could go ahead.
The ruling is the latest chapter in Harry’s turbulent relationship with the press, whom he holds responsible for the death of his mother Princess Diana in a 1997 Paris car crash as she fled paparazzi.
Other claimants are pop star Elton John, his husband David Furnish, the actors Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost, politician Simon Hughes, and Doreen Lawrence, whose son Stephen was killed in a racist murder in 1993.
ANL had “not been able to deliver a ‘knockout blow’ to the claims of any of these claimants”, the judge said in his 95-page ruling.
“In my judgement, each claimant has a real prospect of demonstrating that Associated … concealed from him/her the relevant facts upon which a worthwhile claim of unlawful information gathering could have been advanced,” he wrote.
Harry and the other claimants accuse ANL of methods such as hiring private investigators, tapping phone calls and impersonating individuals to obtain medical information for articles.
The court has been told the alleged wrongdoing dates back to 1993 and continued to as late as 2018.
ANL has dismissed the allegations, arguing the case should not go to trial.
Harry, 39, and his wife Meghan Markle, 42, quit royal duties in 2020 and relocated to California, in part blaming media attention for the move.
The prince, who is formally known as the Duke of Sussex and is the younger son of King Charles III, has vowed to make reforming the British media his life’s mission.
The case is one of a number legal battles he is waging with different UK newspapers over privacy concerns.