Prince William privately settles phone-hacking claim

According to Prince Harry's lawyers, his brother, The Prince of Wales settled his claim against News Group Newspapers 'behind the scenes'.

Prince William has “recently settled” a phone-hacking claim against a UK newspaper group, court documents filed by his brother Prince Harry as part of his own lawsuit claimed on Tuesday.

Harry, 38, is suing a number of UK newspapers over alleged unlawful information-gathering, including News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News of the World tabloids.

NGN is part of Rupert Murdoch’s global publishing empire and is asking the High Court in London to throw out the claims, filed by Harry alongside actor Hugh Grant, arguing they are out of time.

But in documents submitted for a three-day hearing this week, the prince’s lawyers stated that William has “recently settled his claim against NGN behind the scenes”.

Kensington Palace declined to comment on behalf of Prince William, whose formal title is the Prince of Wales.

The legal submissions also detail claims by Harry that the delay in filing a lawsuit against NGN stems from a “secret agreement” between the royal family as an institution and the publisher.

They state that the princes’ late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, was involved in “discussions and authorisation” of the deal, which prevented royals from pursuing claims against NGN until other alleged hacking litigation had concluded.

“The reason for this was to avoid the situation where a member of the royal family would have to sit in the witness box and recount the specific details of the private and highly sensitive voicemails that had been intercepted,” Harry said in a witness statement.

“The institution was incredibly nervous about this,” he added, with the documents noting Harry was informed of the agreement in 2012.

“This agreement, including the promises from NGN for delayed resolution was, obviously, a major factor as to why no claim was brought by me at that time.”

NGN settled phone-hacking claims by more than a dozen public figures in 2021, including actress Sienna Miller.

The publisher’s lawyer, Anthony Hudson, denied there was any agreement with William.

ALSO SEE: Royal news: Harry opens ‘can of worms’ in phone hacking hearing

‘Third party’

Harry and singer Elton John are among six public figures suing the publisher of the Daily Mail over alleged unlawful information-gathering at its titles.

A judge hearing this week’s submissions will decide whether the claims against NGN will go forward to a trial next January.

Harry is also expected to give evidence at a separate trial over allegations of unlawful information-gathering against tabloid publisher Mirror Group Newspapers.

That is due to begin next month, with Harry set to appear in court in June.

Harry has had a rocky relationship with the media, particularly since he and his American wife Meghan left the royal family in early 2020.

Since then, they have both launched litigation against British newspaper publishers, including for privacy and copyright breaches, and libel.

ALSO SEE: Meghan Markle will not be attending King Charles’ coronation: Here’s why

In the court documents for the case against NGN, Harry, also known as the Duke of Sussex, again laid bare his criticisms of tabloid behaviour, accusing them of trying to goad him into living up to their impression of him as a “‘damaged’ young man”.

He said he felt like the tabloid press was the “third party” in all of his romantic relationships – and tried to ruin them, despite his best efforts.

“At no point did I have a girlfriend or a relationship with anyone without the tabloids getting involved and ultimately ruining it, or trying to ruin it, using whatever unlawful means at their disposal,” he said.

He said it felt as if the tabloids “owned” him and “deserved to know everything” about his life, including his movements, and the people around him.

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