February 27, 2024

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Prince Harry settles phone hacking lawsuit with Mirror Group

Prince Harry settles phone hacking lawsuit with Mirror Group

The Duke of Sussex has settled remaining phone hacking claims against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).

Sources say the publishers will pay all of Prince Harry's legal costs, plus around £300,000 in additional damages.

The settlement – relating to allegations of illegal intrusion into 115 stories – marks the end of a four-year battle between the prince and the publisher.

Speaking outside the High Court on behalf of the prince, barrister David Sherborne said: “Our mission continues.”

The lawyer also criticized former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who said: “As editor, he knew very well what was happening.”

The 115 stories were published between 1996 and 2010, and Prince Harry spent two days in court last June, where he was questioned over his claims that the information could only be obtained illegally.

The court then ruled in December that there was evidence of “widespread and habitual” use of phone hacking in the group.

Morgan, who was the newspaper's editor-in-chief between 1995 and 2004, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of any attempts by newspaper employees to hack phones. As he had not worked for MGN in 20 years, he was not personally liable for any of the claims and played no role in the court proceedings.

In a statement published on the X websiteHe said: “I completely agree with Prince Harry that wanton interference in the private lives of the Royal Family for financial gain is completely reprehensible… and I hope he will stop doing so.”

In December, the Duke was awarded £140,600 in damages after winning 15 claims against MGN. Friday's settlement concerns claims over 115 other stories.

His lawyer, Mr Sherborne, told the court his client would receive a “substantial additional sum in damages” from MGN – now owned by Reach PLC – on top of all his legal costs.

The BBC learned that the damages the prince will receive could amount to about 300,000 pounds sterling.

Meanwhile, the publisher said it was happy to reach the agreement that allows it to “move forward after the events that occurred many years ago for which we have apologized.”

After the ruling in December, an MGN spokesman said: “Where historical wrongdoing has occurred, we apologize unreservedly, have taken full responsibility and paid compensation.”

Video explanation,

WATCH: Harry's lawyer David Sherborne reads a statement outside court

The Duke was among several high-profile figures to bring claims against MGN, accusing the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People of unlawful interference in their private lives for the sake of stories.

33 articles in Prince Harry's lawsuit were examined during the trial last year, and it was found that 15 articles were the result of illegal information gathering.

The additional 115 articles settled Friday may have been the subject of another trial if a settlement had not been reached.

Reading a statement on Prince Harry's behalf outside court, Sherborne said the court's ruling was “absolutely devastating.”

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

This should include former Daily Mirror editor-in-chief Piers Morgan, “who knew full well what was happening, the judge said,” the statement added.

The statement continued: “Even his employer realized that he simply could not call him as a witness of fact.”

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

The statement ended by saying that “our mission continues” and that the prince “will continue to accomplish it until the end.”

Coronation Street actor Michael Turner, known professionally as Michael Le Vell, actress Nikki Sanderson, and Fiona Whitman, the ex-wife of comedian Paul Whitehouse, have also made similar claims against the company.

The claims made by Ms Sanderson and Ms Whiteman were dismissed as being made too late, although the judge found that some of their complaints had been substantiated.

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

The judge also ruled that Mr Turner must pay MGN's costs to respond to his claim from the date of 5 March 2022, on which the offer was made.

Judge Fancourt, a veteran of phone-hacking lawsuits, criticized the way this legal battle was conducted.

He said that some claimants refused to negotiate with MGN, and exaggerated their claims without being realistic.

Prince Harry did not appear in court on Friday, having returned to the United States this week after visiting his father, King Charles, after he was diagnosed with cancer.

The prince has been a long-standing outspoken critic of the British tabloid press.

He has been involved in a number of legal battles in recent years, several of which remain unresolved – including allegations of illegal information gathering by The Sun's publisher, News Group Newspapers, which is scheduled to go on trial in 2025.