Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Prince Harry launches phone hacking lawsuit against British tabloids

It comes just days after he and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, announced they would take legal action against the Mail on Sunday after it published one of Meghan's private letters

Prince Harry has filed a new claim for breach of privacy against British tabloid newspapers. AFP. 
Prince Harry has filed a new claim for breach of privacy against British tabloid newspapers. AFP. 

Prince Harry has ramped up his battle with the British tabloid industry by filing legal proceedings against two mastheads he claims hacked his phone lines.

The announcement of legal proceedings comes just days after he and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, announced they would take legal action in a separate case against the Mail on Sunday after it published one of Meghan's private letters to her estranged father.

But now, as the royal couple's 10-day tour of South Africa comes to a close, Buckingham Palace confirmed claims had been filed by Prince Harry at the high court against tabloids the Sun and the Daily Mirror, citing intercepted phone messages.

\Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are currently on a tour of South Africa. They met with South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife Tshepo Motsepe at the Presidential Official Residence in Pretoria on Thursday. EPA.
\Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are currently on a tour of South Africa. They met with South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife Tshepo Motsepe at the Presidential Official Residence in Pretoria on Thursday. EPA.

The legal proceedings are a bold move from the Duke and Duchess; even more so considering the news was not announced via official channels, and their initial statement on the matter was published on their own website, which was seemingly created solely for that purpose.

Harry's stand-off with the British press has been escalating since his relationship with Meghan first began in 2016. When a story outing the two as a couple first broke, he openly criticised "racial overtones" in the reporting.

This week, Prince Harry broke with royal tradition once again, by publicly calling out the media in an emotionally charged statement, which confirmed the Duchess of Sussex had filed a claim against Associated Newspapers over "the misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018".

The couple had made the decision after the “painful impact of relentless propaganda” against his wife from the British tabloid press.

The prince referred to past press coverage of his mother Princess Diana, saying he feared “history repeating itself”.

Diana became one of the most photographed women on the planet after she married into the British royal family.

She died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 after being followed through the streets by press photographers.

“Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one,” Prince Harry said.

Prince Harry arrives at the Nalikule College of Education in Malawi on day seven of the royal tour. AP.
Prince Harry arrives at the Nalikule College of Education in Malawi on day seven of the royal tour. AP.

The couple employed the libel lawyers Schillings using private funds. Proceeds from any damages will be donated to an anti-bullying charity.

"My wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son," Prince Harry said in his statement.

"There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been. Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper."

Prince Harry then accused the Mail on Sunday of editing out parts of the letter in “an intentionally destructive manner” to “manipulate” readers and provide an inaccurate picture of his wife.

Prince Harry, 35, Queen Elizabeth's grandson and sixth in line to the throne, said the legal action had been "many months in the making".

The news came on the penultimate day of the royal couple's tour of South Africa with their newborn son, Archie.

The prince visited the same landmine clearance project in Angola that Princess Diana had been to a few months before her death.

Prince Harry returned to the spot to see the work of the Halo Trust, a charity that is dedicated to helping countries recover after conflict, with a particular focus on clearing landmines.

He also sat beneath the Diana Tree, which is all that remains of the field where his mother was pictured.

Updated: October 5, 2019 09:54 AM

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