29 March 2023

Harry not at High Court for third day of hearing in privacy claim

29 March 2023

The Duke of Sussex was not present at the High Court for the start of the third day of a hearing over multiple privacy claims against the Daily Mail’s publisher.

Proceedings in Court 76 at the Royal Court of Justice in London resumed on Wednesday morning without Harry.

The duke, who unexpectedly appeared at court earlier this week, is one of seven people bringing claims against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over denied allegations it carried out or commissioned illegal or unlawful information gathering.

Those bringing claims include Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon, Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish and actress Sadie Frost – all of whom have made appearances during the ongoing preliminary hearing.

Mr Furnish and Ms Frost returned to the courtroom on Wednesday.

The group’s allegations, which are denied, include that ANL hired private investigators to place listening devices inside cars, “blag” private records and access and record private phone conversations over a period starting from 1993.

ANL is trying to have the claims dismissed without a trial at the hearing, which is due to end this week.

In a witness statement made public on Tuesday, Harry alleged that journalists at ANL “are criminals with journalistic powers which should concern every single one of us”.

“The British public deserve to know the full extent of this cover-up and I feel it is my duty to expose it,” he said.

However, in a statement, a spokesperson for ANL said Harry “has become a serial litigant against Mail newspapers with whom he seems obsessed”.

They continued: “Associated Newspapers profoundly regrets his untrue, inflammatory and deeply offensive remarks about the Mail’s journalists.

“If they were repeated outside court, they would be highly defamatory.”

Baroness Lawrence claims to have been the victim of the illegal interception of her voicemails, monitoring of her bank accounts and “corrupt payments to serving Metropolitan Police Service police officers, including on the Stephen Lawrence murder investigations, for confidential information”.

Sir Elton and Mr Furnish have alleged the landline phone of their Windsor home was tapped by investigators on ANL’s behalf and that the birth certificate of their first child was unlawfully obtained by the publisher.

But ANL argues that an alleged confession by private investigator Gavin Burrows “prompted the claims” – and highlighted a statement in which he denies being commissioned by its newspapers to conduct unlawful information gathering.

The publisher says it “categorically denies” the allegations against it and it is “profoundly saddened” Baroness Lawrence is bringing her case.

ANL’s lawyers argue the claims are “stale” and “largely inferential”.

The hearing before Mr Justice Nicklin is due to conclude on Thursday, with a ruling expected at a later date.

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