09 June 2022

Prince Harry’s libel claim against newspaper publisher over ‘security arrangements’ has first hearing

09 June 2022

The Duke of Sussex’s libel claim against a newspaper publisher over an article about his legal case against the Home Office is due to have its first hearing on Thursday.

Harry is suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), publisher of the Mail on Sunday, after the paper ran a story following a hearing in the duke’s separate High Court claim over his security arrangements when he is in the UK.

The piece was published in February under the headline: “Exclusive: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government over police bodyguards a secret … then – just minutes after the story broke – his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute.”

At a preliminary hearing in London, Mr Justice Nicklin will be asked to determine the “natural and ordinary” meaning of the parts of the article in the claim.

The judge will also consider whether they are a statement of fact or opinion and whether they are defamatory in his decision, which is likely to be given in writing at a later date.

In his written claim filed with the court, Harry said the reporting allegedly caused him “substantial hurt, embarrassment and distress which is continuing”.

The duke’s legal team has argued that the “natural and ordinary” meaning of the Mail on Sunday’s reporting includes that he “lied” about always being willing to pay for police protection in the UK and had “improperly and cynically tried to manipulate and confuse public opinion by authorising his ‘spin doctors’ to put out false and misleading statements”.

Harry is bringing his separate claim against the Home Office after being told he would no longer be given the “same degree” of personal protective security when visiting from the US, despite offering to pay for it himself.

He is arguing that his private protection team in the US does not have adequate jurisdiction abroad or access to UK intelligence information which is needed to keep his family safe.

However, Robert Palmer QC, for the Home Office, previously told the court the duke’s offer of private funding was “irrelevant” and that “personal protective security by the police is not available on a privately financed basis”.

The preliminary hearing in the libel claim will be held at the Royal Courts of Justice from 10.30am on Thursday.

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