Harry settles phone hacking claim

09/02/2024

Harry settles phone hacking claim

The Duke of Sussex has settled the remaining parts of his phone hacking claim against the publisher of the Daily Mirror.

Harry, 39, sued Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for damages, claiming journalists at its publications were linked to methods including phone hacking, so-called “blagging” – gaining information by deception – and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.

In December, a judge ruled that phone hacking became “widespread and habitual” at MGN titles in the late 1990s and was practised “even to some extent” during the Leveson Inquiry into press standards in 2011.

Mr Justice Fancourt also concluded that Harry’s phone was hacked “to a modest extent” by MGN, awarding him £140,600 in damages.

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

A further 115 articles were in his claim, which may have been the subject of a further trial.

However, during a hearing in London on Friday, his barrister David Sherborne confirmed a settlement had been reached between the duke and MGN.

He said: “MGN will pay the Duke of Sussex a substantial additional sum by way of damages and all the costs of his claim.”

The barrister said this included an interim payment towards the costs of £400,000.

The announcement comes after Harry withdrew his High Court libel claim against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday last month.

He sued Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over a February 2022 article about his legal challenge against the Home Office following a decision to change his publicly funded security arrangements when visiting the UK.

However, on January 19 it was announced that the claim had been withdrawn, with a spokesperson for the duke saying his focus was on “the safety of his family”.

During Friday’s hearing, Mr Justice Fancourt said the publisher should pay so-called “generic” legal costs to the people currently involved in the legal action against MGN.

The judge said: “On the generic issues, there can be little doubt that the claimants were successful.”

The final figure of costs is yet to be assessed, but the High Court in London heard the group of people who sued the publisher were currently seeking payment of around £1.9 million from MGN towards the legal costs of bringing those allegations to court.

Mr Justice Fancourt ruled that the interim payment should be made ahead of a further assessment of costs.

Harry’s case at trial was heard alongside similar claims brought by 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.

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.

In his ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Fancourt ruled that Ms Sanderson and Ms Wightman 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 March 5 2022, where an offer was made.

Roger Mallalieu KC, for MGN, previously said the publisher would be seeking interim payments from the trio – who are said to be insured for their adverse costs – of around £100,000 each.

Mr Justice Fancourt ruled that 90% of the interim payments should be made to MGN, with some deductions.

An MGN spokesperson said: “We are 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.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub



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