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Prince Harry Cannot Take Claims Against Murdoch to Trial, Judge Rules

Prince Harry Cannot Take Claims Against Murdoch to Trial, Judge Rules

Prince Harry cannot expand his privacy lawsuit against the publisher of U.K. tabloid The Sun to include allegations against media mogul Rupert Murdoch and presenter Piers Morgan, a London judge has ruled.

The Duke of Sussex’s lawyers were hoping to sue over claims that Murdoch and other top executives were part of an effort to conceal and destroy evidence of unlawful information gathering. The prince alleges that he was targeted by journalists and private investigators working for News Group Newspapers (NGN) titles The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World, which closed in 2011.

In March, he sought to amend his case to add new allegations, including that The Sun ordered private investigators to target his now-wife Meghan in 2016. He was further refused permission to push the timeline of the case back to 1994 and 1995, to include allegations involving his late mother, Princess Diana, as Judge Timothy Fancourt of the High Court said it was “too late.”

His request was denied amid Harry’s ongoing battles against the British tabloids. Fancourt rejected several amendments but did allow the prince to add allegations against others that he claims used unlawful means to get royal scoops.

Fancourt said allegations that Murdoch “turned a blind eye” to wrongdoing added nothing meaningful to claims made against NGN. He added the claims already include “trusted lieutenants,” such as Murdoch’s younger son, James Murdoch, and Rebekah Brooks, the then-editor at News of the World and The Sun.

NGN has denied any illegal activity took place at The Sun. Following Fancourt’s ruling, a spokesperson for NGN said the court “thoroughly vindicated” their position.

“At a hearing in March 2024, the Claimants sought to introduce wide-ranging allegations into their pleadings. NGN argued that a number of these were irrelevant to the fair and just determination of claims and had nothing to do with seeking compensation for victims of phone hacking or unlawful information gathering,” read the statement. “The Court in its Judgment today has thoroughly vindicated NGN’s position and did not give permission to introduce large and significant portions of the amendments.”

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Actor Hugh Grant was also among those involved in NGN lawsuits (the Briton settled the illegal snooping case last month).

In December, Justice Timothy Fancourt ruled in Harry’s favor in a 386-page decision handed down in the High Court; he said that phone hacking, which for the prince dated back to 2003, was “widespread and habitual” at Mirror Group Newspapers — and that executives there had covered it up. Harry, who is breaking with royal tradition in this fight, becoming the first in the family to testify in open court in over a century, also has a pending case against British red top The Daily Mail.

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