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UK: Prince Harry makes surprise court appearance

March 27, 2023

Prince Harry made an unexpected appearance at London's high court for a hearing in a privacy claim launched by celebrities and other figures against a major UK publisher.

Prince Harry arrives at the Royal Courts Of Justice, in London, Monday, March 27, 2023.
Prince Harry made a surprise appearance at the Royal Courts Of Justice in London.Image: Jordan Pettitt/ASSOCIATED PRESS/picture alliance

Prince Harry, singer Elton John and five others made a surprise appearance at London's High Court on Monday as they began a lawsuit against the publisher of the Daily Mail paper over years of alleged phone-tapping and privacy breaches.

Harry the younger son of King Charles now lives in California after quitting royal duties in 2019 in a very public falling out with his family.

His spokesperson said Harry wanted to be at the hearing to show his support, adding that he might attend for much of the four-day preliminary hearing.

The others taking part in the legal action include actresses Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost as well as Elton John's husband David Furnish, Doreen Lawrence  the mother of murder victim Stephen Lawrence  and former Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes.

None of the claimants are expected to speak during the hearing.

Prince HARRY arrives at Royal Courts of Justice.
He is attending the trial against Associated Newspapers Group, publisher of Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday.Image: Tayfun Salci/ZUMAPRESS.com/picture alliance

What is the case?

The claimants allege that they were victims of "numerous unlawful acts" carried out by ANL titles the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, according to their lawyers extracts of submissions made to the court.

The acts include hacking mobile phone messages, bugging calls, getting private information like medical records by deception or "blagging"  using private investigators to unlawfully obtain information. It also included "even commissioning the breaking and entry into private property," according to the exerpts.

Lawyers accused ANL of engaging in this activity from 1993 to 2011. Some "even continuing beyond until 2018," they added.

In Harry's written case, quoted by ANL's lawyers in court filings, he says that the publication of articles about him caused "suspicion and paranoia ... Friends were lost or cut off as a result and everyone became a 'suspect'."

Harry had "painful memories ... regarding the extent to which ANL publicized private and sensitive information relating to his private and family life," it said.

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Strong denial.

ANL said it categorically denied the very serious allegations and would vigorously defend them if necessary. It is seeking to have the case thrown out.

It said the claims were based on inference rather than evidence, and that the claimants had provided little or no evidence of unlawful information gathering by its journalists  which it strongly denies.

ANL's lawyers are arguing that the claims fall outside a time limit for legal action, and that some breach an order made during a year-long public inquiry into press standards which began in 2011.

The Dutch of Sussex the younger son of Britain's King Charles III, has long had a difficult relationship with the media.

dmn/jcg (Reuters, AFP)