A high court judge has ruled that, Prince Harry’s damages suit against the News Group Newspaper (NGN), about the illegal acquisition of information about his private life, will proceed to trial.
According to the Duke of Sussex, he was subjected to pursuits by writers and detectives that worked for NGN, publishers for The Sun and the now-defunct News of the world.
The judge declared that, though the Duke was unable to pursue his complaint for phone hacking, his claim for other suits, like the pursuit by independent detective, can proceed to trial. The trial is set to commence in January next year.
The judge further denied Prince Harry’s plea to depend in part on what he claimed to be a “secret agreement” between top officials within News Group Newspapers and members of the Royal Family. NGN described this particular decision as a “significant victory.”
In rejecting Harry’s bid to capitalize on the purported agreement as part of his claim, the judge noted, “I am unable to conclude that there is a sufficiently plausible evidential basis for the new case based on the secret agreement to justify the grant of permission to amend at a late stage of the proceedings.”
Moreover, the judge stated in his written judgement that, there was “no reasonable prospect” of Harry proving at trial that, he was unaware of the any details needed to support his voicemail interception claims, against both the News of the World and the Sun.
“He already knew that in relation to the News of the World, and he could easily have found out by making basic inquiries that he was likely to have a similar claim in relation to articles published by the Sun.”The Judge’s Ruling.
The Judge further ruled that, no proof was presented to him about the Duke’s awareness for six years before the date he submitted his suit “that NGN had done anything other than hack his mobile phone, at the News of the World.”
“Knowing or being on notice of a worthwhile claim for voicemail interception does not of itself amount to knowledge or notice of a worthwhile claim for other forms of unlawful information gathering.”Judge Ruling.
It was stated that, a trial with a complete evidentiary picture was necessary to decide, if Harry should have been aware of other illegal information collection methods.
Harry’s Attorney, David Sherborne Esq, previously claimed though he was aware of the unlawful activities around 2012, he had no basis to believe that, it also went on in the Sun, but was denied for filing a suit, due to the “secret agreement” between the Royal family and senior NGN officials.
The Attorney alleged that, the NGN group issued an apology letter to the Royal family as part of the secret agreement, in order to avoid a lawsuit. NGN attorneys denied the allegation, claiming that, such illegal behavior never occurred in the Sun.
Additionally, the judge state noted that, there were “inconsistencies” in the Prince’s testimony, “the absence of any other witness or documentary evidence to support it,” and “the improbability of a secret agreement being made” in the terms described as contributing factors to the “lack of credibility.”
According to an NGN spokeswoman, Thursday’s verdict was “a significant victory” that “dismissed the Duke of Sussex’s phone hacking claims against both the News of the World and the Sun.”
The spokesperson added that the judge had found out that Harry’s claims “in relation to the alleged ‘secret agreement’ were not plausible or credible. It is quite clear there was never any such agreement and it is only the duke who has ever asserted there was.”
“The ruling substantially reduces the scope of his legal claim. The exact nature and scope of any trial of the remainder will be the subject of further hearings.”NGN Spokesperson.