UK’s Prince Harry sues tabloid for defamation over security story



The Manila Times

Americas And Emea

LONDON: Lawyers for the United Kingdom’s Prince Harry asked a judge on Friday to rule that a tabloid newspaper libeled the British royal with an article about his quest for police protection when he and his family visit the country. Harry is suing Mail on Sunday publisher Associated Newspapers Ltd. over an article alleging he tried to hush up his separate legal challenge over the British government’s refusal to let him pay for police security. During a hearing at the High Court in the capital London, Harry’s lead attorney asked Judge Matthew Nickin either to strike out the publisher’s defense or to deliver a summary judgment, which would be a ruling in the prince’s favor without going to trial. Lawyer Justin Rushbrooke said the facts did not support the publisher’s “substantive pleaded defense” that the article expressed an “honest opinion.” He said the article was “fundamentally inaccurate.” Harry was not in court for the hearing. The prince and his wife Meghan Markle, formally known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, lost their publicly funded UK police protection when they stepped down as senior working royals and moved to North America in 2020. Harry’s lawyers have said the prince is reluctant to bring the couple’s children — Prince Archie, who is almost 4, and Princess Lilibet, nearly 2 — to his homeland because it is not safe. The 38-year-old prince wants to pay personally for police security when he comes to the UK, but the government said that wasn’t possible. Last year, a judge gave Harry permission to sue the government. That case is yet to come to trial. Harry sued Associated Newspapers over a February 2022 Mail on Sunday article headlined “Exclusive: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government over police bodyguards a secret… then — just minutes after the story broke — his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute.” The younger son of King Charles 3rd claims that the newspaper libeled him when it suggested that he lied in his initial public statements about the suit against the government. Last July, Nicklin ruled that the article was defamatory, allowing the case to proceed. The judge has not yet considered issues such as whether the story was accurate or in the public interest. The publisher’s lawyer, Andrew Caldecott, said the argument by Harry’s attorneys amounted to “straitjacketing the newspaper’s right to comment.” He said it was vital the media speak truth to power, and “speaking opinion to power is every bit (as), if not more, important,” as long as the opinion is based on facts.