Prince Harry’s libel case against publisher ‘built on sand’, London court told
LONDON: Prince Harry’s libel claim over an article about his security arrangements is ‘built on sand’, lawyers for the Associated Newspapers publisher told a London court on Friday as he fought the attempt of the British royal to win the case without going to trial.
Harry, the youngest son of King Charles, sued the Associated Newspapers last year over an article in its Mail on Sunday newspaper alleging he only offered to pay for police protection after engaging in a fight separate legal action against the British government.
The article accused Harry, 38, of trying to mislead the public about his legal fight with the government over his state-funded protection, which was withdrawn after he left office royals in 2020.
The High Court in London ruled in July that the Mail’s report was defamatory – clearing the way for Harry to pursue the case against one of Britain’s biggest media publishers.
Harry’s lawyers told Judge Matthew Nicklin on Friday that Harry first offered to pay for police protection during a crisis meeting with the late Queen Elizabeth, her father and brother Prince William at the royal estate from Sandringham in January 2020.
Justin Rushbrooke said Associated Newspapers had no factual basis for its defense and asked the court to rule in Harry’s favor without the need for a trial.
However, Associated Newspapers lawyer Andrew Caldecott said he had a strong “honest opinion” argument, and that Harry’s attempt to win the case without a trial was “completely without merit”.
Caldecott said a statement released by Harry’s representatives in January 2022 – a month before the article at the center of the trial – falsely claimed the government had refused Harry’s offer to pay for police protection.
He also said Harry had admitted he had not offered to pay in correspondence with the UK government before taking legal action, adding: ‘This whole case is built on sand.
A decision on Harry’s request to win the case without a trial is expected at a later date.
The case is one of many brought in recent years by Harry and his American wife Meghan against the tabloid press, having cited media intrusion as one of the reasons they stepped down from royal duties and moved to California. (Reuters)