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Prince Harry drops legal case against Associated Newspapers – details

The Duke of Sussex had been involved in a libel action against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday

Prince Harry in a black suit outside© Eamonn M. McCormack
Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
January 19, 2024
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Prince Harry has dropped his libel action against Associated Newspapers, who publish the Mail on Sunday.

The Duke of Sussex was pursuing a libel claim against the publisher over articles about his security arrangements when returning to the United Kingdom, with the newspaper alleging that the royal had tried to keep secret clashes with the government over the issue and that he had tried to mislead the public about the arrangements.

Prince Harry has lost his bid to throw out Mail on Sunday publisher's defence to libel claim© Getty
The Duke has dropped his legal battle against the Mail on Sunday

Back in December, Harry failed in an attempt to have the publisher's legal defence thrown out, with Mr Justice Nicklin ruling on 8 December that the case should proceed to trial in 2024. The judge concluded the publisher had a "real prospect" of successfully showing at a trial that previous Harry press statements provided a "misleading" description of his case against the Home Office.

The Duke's lawyers have said the 2022 story, which claimed Harry "tried to keep details of his legal battle to reinstate his police protection secret from the public," was "an attack on his honesty and integrity" and would undermine his charity work and efforts to tackle misinformation online.

Harry and Meghan in Windsor, 2022© Getty
The Duke bought the legal action following an article about the security arrangements for him and his wife

ANL contested the claim, arguing the article expressed an "honest opinion" and did not cause "serious harm" to Harry's reputation.

In a summary published the day after Mr Justice Nicklin's ruling, it was revealed that Harry and his wife Meghan Markle's security when they came back to the UK was of "paramount importance" to the late Queen. In a document written by the late monarch's private secretary, Sir Edward Young, it was stated: "You [Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill] will understand well that ensuring that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain safe is of paramount importance to Her Majesty and her family.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex looking at each other on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on July 10, 2018© Max Mumby/Indigo
Harry and Meghan's security was of "paramount importance" to the late Queen

"Given the Duke's public profile by virtue of being born into the royal family, his military service, the Duchess's own independent profile and the well-documented history of targeting of the Sussex family by extremists, it is imperative that the family continues to be provided with effective security." 

During the proceedings, the judgment explained that the letter did not refer to an offer "personally to reimburse, or proactively to finance, the cost of state security so as not to burden the taxpayer", which the Duke claims he made during the Sandringham summit in a press statement in 2022. Ravec, the Home Office committee that rules on security matters has claimed they received no such offer.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the sitting volleyball final during day six of the Invictus Games© WireImage
The Duke has, however, won a legal case against Mirror Group Newspapers

Harry has had some legal wins over the past year, with the Duke being awarded £140,600 after bringing a High Court phone hacking claim against Mirror Group Newspapers.  In a ruling last month, Mr Justice Fancourt concluded there was "extensive" phone hacking generally by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) from 2006 to 2011, "even to some extent" during the Leveson Inquiry into media standards.

Reading a statement on Harry's behalf outside the High Court, his lawyer David Sherborne said: "Today is a great day for truth, as well as accountability."

Harry and Meghan smiling at Invictus Games© Getty
The Duke was awarded £140,600 for his case against MGN

In his summary, Judge Fancourt: "I have accordingly awarded the Duke damages in respect of each of the articles and invoices where unlawful information gathering was proved.

WATCH: Duke of Sussex hails phone hacking ruling as ‘great day for truth’

"I have also awarded a further sum to compensate the Duke fully for the distress that he suffered as a result of the unlawful activity directed at him and those close to him. I recognise that Mirror Group was not responsible for all the unlawful activity that was directed at the Duke, and that a good deal of the oppressive behaviour of the press towards the Duke over the years was not unlawful at all.

MORE: Prince Harry seen for the first time since debate over Princess Lilibet's name

READ: Why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced pregnancy at Princess Eugenie's wedding

"Mirror Group therefore only played a small part in everything that the Duke suffered and the award of damages on this ground is therefore modest."

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