Prince Harry’s new lawsuit could hurt royal family’s ‘truce’ with UK media: report – The Mercury News

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Prince Harry’s new lawsuit against the publisher of the Daily Mail, alleging illegal phone-tapping and an array of other invasive reporting practices, may offer him a sense of vindication over a U.K. tabloid that regularly criticizes him and his wife, Meghan Markle.
But the lawsuit, filed by Harry, Sir Elton John and a group of other notable U.K. figures, could do serious damage to the royal family’s long and sometimes difficult relationship with the U.K. media, according to unnamed former journalist with the Daily Mail.
“Harry and Meghan have frequently made it clear that they despised, and indeed almost considered corrupt, the sometimes cozy relationship between the palace and the British tabloid media,” the former staffer told the Daily Beast Thursday.
Whether that relationship is “cozy” is a matter of debate. Harry and Meghan definitely think so, as they told Oprah Winfrey in their bombshell 2021 interview. The Duchess of Sussex said Buckingham Palace hosted holiday parties for reporters from the tabloids — an allegation that was refuted at the time by reporters for those publications.
Harry characterized the relationship between his family and reporters as “an invisible contract.” The Guardian in 2016 described an uneasy truce, in which the family offers limited but orchestrated public exposure in return for privacy for themselves and their children when they aren’t out in public.
This truce developed in fits and starts following the 1997 death of Princess Diana; Harry has long said that a relentless media made the last years of his mother’s life hell and blames paparazzi for causing the car accident that killed her.
The former Daily Mail employee told the Daily Beast that Harry wanted to blow up his family’s relationship with the media before he stepped away from royal duties in 2020 and moved to the United States, but his family has been unwilling to do, “so this (suit) feels like Harry doing it on his own,” the employee said.
King Charles III also recently hired a former senior editor at The Daily Mail to be his communications chief, so Harry’s new lawsuit is “a shot right at the heart of the relationship between the palace and the media,” the employee said.
Along with Harry and John, the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail and other publications, include John’s husband, David Furnish, actor Elizabeth Hurley, fashion designer Sadie Frost, and Baroness Doreen Lawrence, according to a press statement issued by the law firm representing some of the plaintiffs.
The statement from Hamlins LLP said that the plaintiffs “have become aware of compelling and highly distressing evidence that they have been the victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches,” the BBC reported. The allegations include hiring private investigators to place recorders in homes and cars, bribing police officials for information, illegally impersonating people to get medical records, and improperly accessing financial records.
“They have now therefore banded together to uncover the truth, and to hold the journalists responsible fully accountable, many of whom still hold senior positions of authority and power today,” the law firm’s statement said.
The allegations are reminiscent of the phone-hacking scandal from the 2000s that led to the closure of the News of the World, a Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid, in 2011. The News of the World’s owners admitted that its employees for years had hacked the phones of celebrities, politicians, members of the royal family and other notable people in the news.
In 2005, the paper published a story about Prince William being treated for an injury, based on information that only could have come from one of its journalists listening to the prince’s voicemails, the BBC reported.
In response to the new lawsuit, Associated Newspapers said that the “unsubstantiated and highly defamatory” allegations concern articles that were published as many as 30 years ago. The allegations constitute “preposterous smears” and “a pre-planned and orchestrated attempt” to drag the Daily Mail back into the era of the phone hacking scandal. The publisher said the plaintiffs and their lawyers are engaging in “a fishing expedition,” particularly over cases that they have tried to pursue elsewhere.
Whatever Harry’s intentions, his participation in this lawsuit marks the latest effort by him and his American wife to challenge articles published by Associated Newspapers’ titles.
The Duke of Sussex separately sued the company for libel in February over an article in the Mail on Sunday about his legal battle with the Home Office over security for him and his family when they are in the UK. In an initial ruling in the ongoing case, a judge said parts of the story were potentially defamatory. Last year, the Duchess of Sussex won a favorable ruling in her invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against the publisher over a story about a letter she sent to her estranged father.
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