10 November 2023

Harry to find out whether privacy claim against Mail publisher can go ahead

10 November 2023

The Duke of Sussex, Sir Elton John and Baroness Doreen Lawrence are to discover whether they can continue their High Court cases against the publisher of the Daily Mail over allegations of unlawful information gathering.

Seven people – also including David Furnish, Sadie Frost, Liz Hurley and Sir Simon Hughes – have brought legal action against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL).

They have accused the publisher of allegedly carrying out or commissioning unlawful activities such as hiring private investigators to place listening devices inside cars, “blagging” private records and accessing and recording private phone conversations.

At a hearing in March, ANL, which “firmly” denies the allegations, asked a judge to rule in its favour without a trial, arguing the legal challenges against it were brought “far too late”.

Mr Justice Nicklin is expected to issue his written ruling over ANL’s bid to end the claims on Friday.

Harry made a surprise appearance at the Royal Courts of Justice during the four-day hearing, with Sir Elton, Ms Frost and Lady Lawrence also appearing in the London court at times during the preliminary hearing.

Adrian Beltrami KC, for ANL, said the high-profile individuals could have used “reasonable diligence” to discover if they had a potential claim before October 2016.

The lawyer said the legal action against it has “no real prospects of succeeding” and is “barred” under a legal period of limitation.

Six of those bringing cases against the publisher have referred to alleged confessions by private investigator Gavin Burrows in their claims, but ANL highlighted a later contrasting witness statement from Mr Burrows in which he denies being commissioned by its newspapers to conduct unlawful information gathering.

However, lawyers for the high-profile individuals said they were “thrown off the scent” and not aware of being targeted, having believed “categorical denials” from ANL over any involvement in unlawful activity.

David Sherborne, representing Harry and others, said ANL’s bid to have the claims ended was as “ambitious as it is unattractive” and that the group each had a “compelling case”.

Mr Sherborne later read out extracts from Baroness Lawrence’s witness statement in which she said she felt “played for a fool” by the Daily Mail, believing the newspaper “really cared” about the injustice of the 1993 murder of her son Stephen Lawrence.

Mr Justice Nicklin is to give his decision in writing at 10am on Friday.

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