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Prince Harry’s libel claim against Mail on Sunday publisher must go to trial, judge rules | UK News


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Prince Harry’s libel case against the Mail on Sunday over an article about security arrangements must go to trial, a judge at London’s High Court has ruled – rejecting the duke’s bid to have the publisher’s defence thrown out.

The Duke of Sussex, 39, is suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over an article published in February 2022, covering his legal challenge against the Home Office following a decision to change his publicly funded security arrangements when visiting the UK.

The story claimed Harry “tried to keep details of his legal battle to reinstate his police protection secret from the public”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex leave the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral, London, on day two of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II. Picture date: Friday June 3, 2022.
Harry and Meghan pictured during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022

His lawyers have said this was “an attack on his honesty and integrity” and would undermine his charity work and efforts to tackle misinformation online.

ANL argues the article expressed an “honest opinion” and did not cause “serious harm” to Harry’s reputation, and is contesting the claim.

At a hearing in March, the duke’s lawyers launched a bid to have ANL’s defence thrown out and for judgment to be granted in his favour without a trial.

However, in a written ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Nicklin refused to “strike out” ANL’s defence – concluding the publisher had a “real prospect” of arguing its case that previous press statements from Harry provided a “misleading” description of his case against the Home Office.

In summary, the judge said: “The Duke of Sussex’s claim will now go through its remaining pre-trial phases and, unless resolved in some other way, to a trial at some point in 2024.”

A hearing dealing with the consequences of the judge’s decision is expected to be held on Tuesday.

The case against the Home Office

The judgment comes a day after the High Court finished hearing a separate but related case about the security arangements themselves. As well as suing ANL about its article on the subject, the duke is also taking legal action against the Home Office over the decision that meant he would no longer be given the “same degree” of personal protective security when visiting, made in February 2020.

In that case, he claims the decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) – which comes under the Home Office’s remit – was “unlawful and unfair”.

A different judge is dealing with that case and a judgment is expected at a later date.

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Harry now lives in California with wife Meghan and their children Archie and Lilibet, after stepping back from his royal duties and leaving the UK in 2020.

The Mail on Sunday first reported that he was taking legal action against the Home Office in January 2022.

A press statement had been issued on behalf of the duke saying he and his family were “unable to return to his home” due to a lack of police protection.

“The duke first offered to pay personally for UK police protection for himself and his family in January of 2020 at Sandringham,” it added. “That offer was dismissed. He remains willing to cover the cost of security, as not to impose on the British taxpayer.”

A Home Office document prepared for a preliminary hearing in Harry’s case against the department said his offer of private funding “notably was not advanced to Ravec” at the time of a visit to the UK by the duke in 2021, or in any pre-action correspondence.

This was “a crushing rebuttal to Harry’s initial public statement that implied he had always been willing to foot the bill”, the Mail on Sunday article claimed.

Justin Rushbrooke KC, representing the duke in his case against ANL, said in written submissions for the March hearing that the publisher’s defence “rests upon two provably false premises” relating to the press statement.

Andrew Caldecott KC, representing ANL, previously said the bid to end their defence without a trial was “wholly without merit” and that “the whole case is built on sand”.

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Written by: radioroxi

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