‘Issue of fact’ Prince Harry dealt legal blow as judge slaps down Duke of Sussex

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The Duke of Sussex, 37, claimed a newspaper report about his security undermined his charity work and caused “serious harm” to his reputation. But a High Court judge has rejected the Duke’s request, saying: “Ultimately, this is an issue of fact.”

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Prince Harry is suing the publishers of the Mail on Sunday over a report that he “tried to keep his legal fight with the government over police bodyguards a secret”. He claimed that the story harmed his reputation to “constitute an attack on his honesty and integrity and undermine his fitness to be involved both in charitable and philanthropic work”.

 

 

He also claimed the article has caused “serious damage to his reputation and substantial hurt, embarrassment, and distress which is continuing.” The Mail on Sunday published the articles about his ongoing battle with the British government for police security for him and his family when they are in the UK.

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The Duke is claiming “damages including aggravated damages” for libel.
Mr Justice Nicklin has rejected Prince Harry’s legal team’s request that the issue of “serious harm” be tried as a preliminary issue, saying the Mail on Sunday must be given the chance to make its case factually.

 

 

The judge said: “I have refused to direct trial of the issue of serious harm. “I appreciate that the Claimant’s [Harry’s] case is one based solely upon inference, but ultimately this is an issue of fact. “The Defendant [Associated Newspapers] must have an opportunity to advance any factual case in answer to the Claimant’s inferential case. This makes the issue unsuitable for determination as a preliminary issue.”

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Despite this, it could, the judge said, be fairly tried at a later stage. This would mean Prince Harry will still have a chance to argue his case during a full trial at a future date. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have previously taken the tabloids to court. Meghan won a lawsuit in 2021 against Associate Newspaper for violating her privacy when publishing a handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.

 

 

In a statement at the time, the Duchess said: “After two long years of pursuing litigation, I am grateful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers and the Mail on Sunday to account for their illegal and dehumanising practices.

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“These tactics are not new; in fact, they’ve been going on for far too long without consequence. “For these outlets, it’s a game. For me and so many others, it’s real life, real relationships, and very real sadness. The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep.” The Duke has brought a separate case against the Home Office over police protection for his family.

 

 

A preliminary issues trial, set to last two and a half hours, is listed to be heard in person in the Media and Communications court between June 7 and July 1. Each party’s costs have been capped at £30,000.

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