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Prince Harry lawsuit against UK tabloid progresses towards trial

By Agence France-Presse Published Apr 20, 2024 9:39 am

Prince Harry's lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid publisher over allegations of unlawful information gathering can proceed to a potential trial next year, a UK judge ruled.

In one of several claims he has brought against UK newspaper publishers, Harry, 39, alleges he was repeatedly targeted by journalists and private investigators working for The Sun tabloid.

He has been joined in the lawsuit by dozens of other claimants. 

News Group Newspapers (NGN), its publisher, has denied accusations of illegal activity and had asked the High Court in London to delay a potential trial, provisionally due to start next January.

It wanted a narrower-in-scope preliminary trial held to decide whether the cases have been brought too late and outside a legal time limit.

But in a ruling Friday, judge Timothy Fancourt dismissed the request.

He said there was a "plainly considerable risk" of a preliminary trial "increasing costs overall and delaying" a full trial by up to two years.

"That is unsatisfactory," the judge added.

It comes two days after actor Hugh Grant settled his claim against NGN over  allegations of unlawful information gathering, saying he wanted to avoid a potential legal bill of millions of pounds.

While no details of the settlement were given, Grant said on social media he had been offered an "enormous sum of money" not to go to court.

NGN said the claim had been settled "without admission of liability" and that it was "in both parties' financial interests not to progress to a costly trial."

Harry, the younger son of King Charles III, this year settled a long-running lawsuit against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) after alleging its journalists were linked to deceptive and unlawful methods, including phone hacking.

The prince is also bringing legal action against Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday. (AFP)