Prince Harry has settled his privacy claims against a British tabloid publisher, his lawyer told a London court on Friday, two months after a judge found the publisher guilty of “widespread and habitual” piracy from the prince’s cell phone.
The settlement with Mirror Group Newspapers – which his lawyer said would be at least 400,000 pounds, or $504,000 – ends a battle in Harry’s long war with the press over its intrusive coverage of his private life.
It was a victory as much financial as it was symbolic, one that could help cover the legal costs Harry has incurred during years of litigation against the tabloids. As well as paying the costs of the case, the Mirror Group would pay “significant” additional damages, the prince’s lawyer, David Sherborne, said.
“We have uncovered and proven the scandalously dishonest way in which the Mirror acted for so many years,” Harry said in a statement read by Mr Sherborne to the High Court. Harry, who was not present at the hearing, said he would continue his “mission” of exposing what he called the corrupt practices of the tabloids.
At issue in this case was whether the Mirror Group, which owns the Daily Mirror and other tabloid publications, engaged in illegal conduct, including hacking phones and using other deceptive techniques, to unearth personal information about Harry and the other complainants, including British television. actors.
In December, Judge Timothy Fancourt, reward the prince 140,600 pounds, or nearly $180,000, after discovering that Harry had been the victim of a computer hack. He left the door open for another settlement, since that decision was based on just 15 articles, a fraction of the documents submitted by Harry’s lawyers.
Lawyers submitted 115 additional items as evidence of illegal conduct, which could have required two more expensive trials. By agreeing to a settlement at this point, legal experts said, the Mirror Group is trying to cap its financial liability as it faces other potential lawsuits related to the hack.
A spokesperson for the publisher said: “We are pleased to have reached this agreement, which gives our business greater clarity moving forward following events that took place many years ago. and for which we have apologized. »
In his statement, Harry pointed the finger at Piers Morgan, a prominent television personality and former editor of the Daily Mirror, saying Mr Morgan “knew full well what was going on”. Mr Morgan’s “disdain for the court’s decision and his continued attacks since then demonstrate why it was so important to obtain a clear and detailed judgment”, Harry said.
Judge Fancourt said there was evidence Mr Morgan knew of the hack while at the Mirror. Mr. Morgan, who has been a harsh criticism of Harry and his wife, Meghandenied any involvement in the hack.
“The judge today again strongly criticized Mirror Group Newspapers for the manner in which it carried out this action and awarded costs at the most punitive level,” said Daniel Taylor, a media lawyer at the London firm Taylor Hampton, who represented one of the other plaintiffs in the proceeding. case, Fiona Wightman.
This settlement comes at the end of a distressing and eventful week for Harry, the 39-year-old youngest son of King Charles III. On Monday, shortly after Buckingham Palace revealed that the king had been diagnosed with cancer and that he would end his public engagements, Harry flew from Los Angeles to London to visit his father.
The two men met for less than an hour at the king’s London residence, Clarence House, and Harry returned to the United States almost immediately. On Thursday night, he appeared at a National Football League awards ceremony in Las Vegas, presenting an award to Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward.
In a light-hearted speech that drew laughter from the audience, Harry did not mention his father’s illness. He said of American football that the United States “stole rugby from us and you made it yours.”
Harry’s lawsuit against the Mirror Group is one of several privacy lawsuits against tabloid publishers. He is also suing Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, which publishes The Sun, and he is part of the lawsuit that includes pop star Elton John against Associated Newspapers, which publishes The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday. These cases also involved allegations of phone hacking.
Last month, Harry on Sunday withdrew a defamation action against the Mail’s publisher over its security arrangements after he and Meghan split from the royal family and moved to the United States in 2020.
Harry’s decision to go to court against the publishers was unusual for a member of the royal family, who usually resolves such disputes through private negotiations or settlements. His older brother, William, resolved a privacy complaint against News Group Newspapers for a comparable sum of money.
Last June, Harry became the first senior member of the family to give evidence in court since 1891, when Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Prince Albert Edward, gave evidence in a case of wrongdoing during a party baccarat at which he was present.
In his sometimes crude testimony, Harry said the flood of negative stories about him and his family members led him to distrust even his closest friends. Many stories centered around Harry’s relationship with a former girlfriend, Chelsy Davywho he said found a tracking device on his car.
Another article contained details of an episode in which he broke his thumb at school. “Not only do I have no idea how they would know that,” Harry testified, “but that sort of thing arouses paranoia in a young man.”
Editors and reporters, he said, “have blood on their hands” because of all the efforts to obtain information about him and his family.