Prince Harry settles phone hacking claim with Mirror group

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By James Gregory
BBC News

The Duke of Sussex will receive a “substantial” payout for the remaining claims in his phone hacking case against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), his barrister told the High Court.

MGN will pay all of Prince Harry’s legal costs, beginning with an interim payment of £400,000.

In December, the duke was awarded £140,600 in damages after winning 15 claims against MGN.

The new settlement relates to unlawful intrusion claims on 115 more stories.

“MGN will pay the Duke of Sussex a substantial additional sum by way of damages and all the costs of his claim,” David Sherborne told the court on Friday.

The publisher said it was pleased to have reached the agreement which “gives our business further clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago and for which we have apologised”.

A spokesman said MGN welcomed December’s judgement, adding that “where historical wrongdoing took place, we apologise unreservedly, have taken full responsibility and paid compensation”.

The duke was among several high-profile figures bringing claims against MGN, accusing the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People of unlawful intrusion into their private lives for stories.

Thirty-three articles in Prince Harry’s claim were examined during the trial last year, with 15 found to have been the product of unlawful information gathering.

In December the High Court ruled there was evidence of “widespread and habitual” use of phone hacking at the Mirror group newspapers.

The additional 115 articles which were in Prince Harry’s claim may have been the subject of a further trial if a settlement had not been reached.

Reading a statement on behalf of Prince Harry outside the High Court, Mr Sherborne said: “After our victory in December, Mirror Group have finally conceded the rest of my claim, which would have consisted of another two trials, additional evidence and 115 more articles.

“Everything we said was happening at Mirror Group was in fact happening, and indeed far worse as the court ruled in its extremely damning judgement.

“In light of all this, we call again for the authorities to uphold the rule of law and to prove that no one is above it.”

The statement added that this should include former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, “who as editor, knew perfectly well what was going on, as the judge held”.

“Even his own employer realised it simply could not call him as a witness of truth,” the statement continued.

“His contempt for the court’s ruling and his continued attacks ever since demonstrate why it was so important to obtain a clear and detailed judgment.”

The statement ended by saying that “our mission continues” and that the duke would “continue to see it through to the end”.

Mr Morgan has repeatedly denied any knowledge of hacking claims.

Actor Michael Turner, who is known professionally as Michael Le Vell and is most famous for playing Kevin Webster in Coronation Street, actress Nikki Sanderson, and Fiona Wightman, the ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse had also brought similar claims against the company.

The claims brought by Ms Sanderson and Ms Wightman were dismissed because they were made too late, despite the judge finding that some of their complaints were proved.

Mr Justice Fancourt ruled that both should pay MGN the legal costs of defending their individual claims.

The judge also ruled that Mr Turner should pay MGN’s costs of responding to his claim from the date of 5 March 2022, where an offer was made.

Mr Justice Fancourt, a veteran of phone hacking claims, criticised the “extremely confrontational way” the two sides had approached this legal battle.

Some claimants refused to negotiate with MGN, he said, and had exaggerated their allegations without being realistic.

Prince Harry did not appear in court on Friday, having returned to the US this week after visiting his father King Charles III following his cancer diagnosis.

The duke has been a longstanding outspoken critic of sections of the tabloid press.

He has been involved in a number of legal battles in recent years, with most still to be resolved – including claims of unlawful information gathering by the Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers, set for trial in 2025.

Last month, he withdrew a libel claim against the Mail on Sunday publisher, Associated Newspapers.

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15 December 2023
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