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Prince Harry loses bid to appeal in latest High Court case over UK security

The Duke of Sussex first brought a challenge against the Home Office in 2022

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex watches the show during the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games 2023
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
15 April 2024
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The Duke of Sussex has lost his initial bid to appeal against a High Court ruling dismissing his challenge over a decision to change the level of his personal security when he visits the UK, a judicial spokesperson has said.

Prince Harry, 39, who now resides in Montecito, California, took legal action against the Home Office over the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) that he should receive a different degree of taxpayer-funded protection when in the country.

In a judgment in February, retired High Court judge Sir Peter Lane rejected the Duke's case and concluded Ravec's approach was not irrational nor procedurally unfair.

A legal spokesman for Harry said after February's ruling that he will appeal, adding: "The Duke is not asking for preferential treatment, but for a fair and lawful application of Ravec's own rules."

At a hearing in December, Harry's lawyers read out an excerpt from an emotional written witness statement in which the Duke explained why he and his wife, Meghan Markle, felt they had to move to the US after stepping back as senior royals in 2020.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walking hand in hand© Getty
Harry and Meghan stepped back from royal duties in 2020

Harry said: "It was with great sadness for both of us that my wife and I felt forced to step back from this role and leave the country in 2020.

"The UK is my home. The UK is central to the heritage of my children and a place I want them to feel at home as much as where they live at the moment in the US. That cannot happen if it’s not possible to keep them safe when they are on UK soil.

"I cannot put my wife in danger like that and, given my experiences in life, I am reluctant to unnecessarily put myself in harm's way too."

Prince William at High Court© Getty
Harry, pictured in March 2023, last visited the UK in February following his father's cancer diagnosis

The Duke is still able to ask the Court of Appeal directly for the green light to challenge Sir Peter's decision.

Prince Harry's High Court cases

The Duke of Sussex is involved in five cases at the High Court.

1.  Unlawful information-gathering claim against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN)

Harry brought a case against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), claiming journalists at its titles – the Daily and Sunday Mirror and Sunday People – were linked to methods including phone hacking, so-called “blagging” or gaining information by deception, and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.

MGN largely contested the claims and denied that any newspaper articles complained of resulted from phone hacking, while contending that the vast majority did not arise from any other unlawful activity.

2. Unlawful information-gathering allegations against Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL)

Harry is one of seven high-profile people, including Sir Elton John and Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, bringing legal action against the publisher of the Daily Mail over allegations it carried out or commissioned unlawful information-gathering. At a preliminary hearing in March, the publisher asked a judge to rule in its favour without a trial, arguing the legal challenges against it were brought “far too late”.

Mr Justice Nicklin ruled in November that the publisher had failed to deliver a “knockout blow” to the early stage legal challenges, allowing them to continue.

Harry's lawyers are planning to ask ministers for permission to use confidential documents from the Leveson Inquiry into press standards after the judge ruled they could not be used while restrictions were in place.

3. Allegations of unlawful information-gathering at News Group Newspapers (NGN)

Harry and actor Hugh Grant are suing NGN, publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World, over alleged unlawful information-gathering.

The duke alleges he was targeted by journalists and private investigators working for the papers.

Mr Justice Fancourt later ruled that Harry and the actor’s claims could go to trial, except for any allegations relating to phone hacking.

The judge also refused to allow the duke to rely on an alleged “secret agreement” between the royal family and senior executives working for media mogul Rupert Murdoch as part of his claim.

Harry’s claim is currently set to go to trial in January 2025.

4. Libel claim over Mail on Sunday article on Home Office legal battle

Harry is also suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) over a February 2022 Mail on Sunday article about his legal fight with the Home Office.

5. Challenge against the Home Office over UK security arrangements

The Duke’s lawyers are challenging the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) to change the degree of his publicly funded security, arguing it was “unlawful and unfair”.

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