Prince Harry settles case against UK tabloid publisher over phone hack

February 09, 2024 in International

LONDON (AP) — A British newspaper publisher has agreed to pay Price Harry a “substantial” sum in costs and damages for invading his privacy with phone hacking and other illegal snooping, Harry’s lawyer said Friday.

Attorney David Sherborne said Mirror Group Newspapers had agreed to pay Harry legal costs and damages and would make an interim payment of 400,000 pounds ($505,000).

Harry was awarded 140,000 pounds ($177,000) in damages in December after a judge found that phone hacking was “widespread and habitual” at Mirror Group Newspapers in the 1990s, and that executives at the papers covered it up. Judge Timothy Fancourt found that Harry’s phone was hacked “to a modest extent.”

Mirror Group said in a statement that it was “pleased to have reached this agreement, which gives our business further clarity to move forward from events that took place many years ago and for which we have apologised.”

Harry’s case against Mirror Group, which publishes the Daily Mirror and two other tabloids, is one of several that he has launched in a campaign against the British media, which he blames for blighting his life and hounding both his late mother Princess Diana and his wife Meghan.

In June, he became the first senior member of the royal family to testify in court in more than a century during the trial of his case against the Mirror.

Harry, also known as the Duke of Sussex, wasn’t in court for Friday’s ruling. He travelled to London from his home in California earlier this week to visit his father King Charles III, who has been diagnosed with cancer. Harry flew back to the US about 24 hours later.

Harry still has ongoing cases against the publishers of The Sun and Daily Mail over allegations of unlawful snooping. He recently dropped a libel case against the publisher of the Mail after an unfavourable pretrial ruling.

At a High Court hearing on Friday, the judge ordered Mirror Group to pay some of the legal costs for three other claimants whose cases were heard alongside Harry’s.

Fancourt said that “all the claimants have been vindicated” by the court’s findings about the Mirror Group’s misbehaviour, and that legal costs had been increased by the publisher’s “attempts to conceal the truth.”

He ordered the publisher to pay “common costs” of a general case seeking to show wrongdoing by the company. That is separate from the legal costs of preparing for and presenting individuals’ specific claims.

The judge said that the three other claimants must pay some of the Mirror Group’s costs in their individual cases. The judge found in December that the privacy of all four claimants had been violated, but tossed out cases brought by actor Nikki Sanderson and Fiona Wightman, the ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse, because they were filed too late. A claim by actor Michael Turner partially succeeded.