Prince Harry, Elton John, and Doreen Lawrence are pleased with the ruling of the judge to allow them to proceed with their legal action against the publisher of the Daily Mail. The publisher’s attempt to dismiss the case at the high court was unsuccessful.
Three individuals, accompanied by David Furnish, Sadie Frost, Liz Hurley, and Simon Hughes, filed a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) for allegedly obtaining information unlawfully.
This development is a major setback for the publisher, who had been able to avoid the onslaught of lawsuits that other publishers, like News UK owned by Rupert Murdoch, have been dealing with for the past 15 years. These lawsuits involve allegations of illegal actions at their newspapers, particularly involving phone-hacking and unlawful acquisition of materials.
However, the claimants faced a disappointment as the court also decreed that the evidence from leaked financial documents, which were given to the Leveson inquiry on media matters under confidentiality, cannot be used in their case.
In March, the Daily Mail requested a judge to rule in its favor without a trial, stating that the claims against it were baseless accusations. The publication argued that the legal challenges were filed too late.
On Friday, Mr. Justice Nicklin stated that ANL was unable to prove the claims of any of these claimants with a “knockout blow”.
Lawyers representing the seven individuals have released a statement detailing various accusations, such as their residences and vehicles being under surveillance, unethical methods being employed to obtain sensitive medical and financial data, and unauthorized wiretapping of telephone conversations.
The seven individuals expressed their happiness with the ruling, stating that it allows their allegations of criminal behavior and severe invasions of privacy by the Mail publications to move forward to trial. They also noted that the high court easily rejected Associated Newspapers’ efforts to have the case dismissed.
They stated that they are making allegations about unlawful and unacceptable actions that have occurred over a period of time. These actions include hiring private investigators to plant hidden listening devices in their vehicles and residences, monitoring their phone conversations, making corrupt payments to police for privileged information, and illegally obtaining their medical and financial records from hospitals and banks.
Nicklin denied the publishers’ claims that the entire case was filed too late and should be thrown out.
According to the speaker, the plaintiffs had a strong chance of proving that not only were the illegal actions hidden, but also that additional tactics were used in the articles to mislead readers. Multiple plaintiffs expressed concerns that individuals close to them were betraying their trust.
ANL stated their anticipation of proving in a legal setting that the group had made exaggerated claims. They also praised the judge’s ruling that unpublished ledgers provided to the Leveson inquiry, regarding the conduct and principles of the British press, cannot be utilized without government approval. This was seen as a noteworthy triumph.
They stated: “We have consistently made it clear that the sensational allegations made by Prince Harry and others regarding phone-hacking, tapping of landlines, burglary, and the use of sticky-window microphones are completely absurd. We eagerly await the opportunity to prove this in court at the appropriate time.”
According to Nicklin, the use of the documents by celebrities would require authorization from either the government or Sir Brian Leveson, the former judge who led the inquiry.
The individual stated that the court will not allow the use of documents in legal proceedings if they were obtained in violation of a restriction order. The restriction order must be changed or lifted before these documents can be used. This decision upholds and supports the rule of law. Failing to acknowledge or disregard the breach of a restriction order would undermine the rule of law and involve the court.
During the preliminary hearing earlier this year, Harry unexpectedly showed up at the Royal Courts of Justice, along with John and Lady Lawrence, who also made an appearance at the London court.
According to Adrian Beltrami KC of ANL, the individuals could have made an effort to determine if they had a possible claim prior to October 2016. The lawyer stated that the legal action was unlikely to be successful and was prohibited by a legal time limit.
The individuals making the claim have stated that they were not aware until recently that they may have been subjected to illegal collection of information by individuals employed by the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. Their legal team claims that they were misled and unaware that they were being targeted, as they had believed ANL’s firm denials of any involvement in illicit actions.
David Sherborne, who is representing the Duke of Sussex and others, stated that ANL’s effort to dismiss the accusations was both “ambitious and unappealing”. He also argued that each member of the group has a strong and convincing argument.
Actor Hugh Grant, who was granted the right to pursue a damages case against the Sun’s publisher in May for allegations of unlawful information gathering, stated that the decision to proceed with the ANL trial was a major setback for the Daily Mail and a positive development for those seeking the truth about illegal press practices.
Grant, a member of the board of Hacked Off, remembered that during his testimony at the Leveson inquiry in 2012, he expressed doubts about the Daily Mail’s involvement in illegal actions. At the time, the newspaper’s editor, Paul Dacre, assisted in drafting a statement that dismissed Grant’s remarks as “dishonest attacks”. Grant expressed satisfaction that a judge will now determine if similar allegations made by individuals such as Prince Harry, Baroness Lawrence, and Sir Elton John are also dishonest attacks or if the deceit lies with the opposing side.
Prince Harry is currently awaiting a decision in his privacy lawsuit against the Daily Mirror’s publisher. He made history by being the first high-ranking member of the royal family in over 130 years to testify in court.