Prince Harry and Elton John granted access to secret records in hacking claim | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

Prince Harry and Elton John are among six high-profile figures to be given permission to unseal documents from the public inquiry

The Duke of Sussex and Sir Elton John are to be given secret documents from the Leveson Inquiry to support their phone hacking claim against the Daily Mail following a decision by the Government.

In a notice published last night, ministers approved a request from six high-profile figures to unseal documents submitted as part of the public inquiry into hacking more than a decade ago.

The documents outline payments made to private investigators by both the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.

The notice, which was signed by Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer and Home Secretary James Cleverly, states that the ledger cards may be used by the claimants and their lawyers for the purposes of their claims.

Prince Harry and Sir Elton John are among a group of celebrities to have filed a lawsuit alleging widespread unlawful behaviour at Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail titles.

Actors Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost have also brought the claim, alongside former politician Simon Hughes and Doreen Lawrence, the campaigner and mother of Stephen Lawrence.

They have accused the newspaper group of phone hacking and other unlawful information gathering including placing listening devices in cars and recording private phone conversations dating back over three decades.

In a joint statement, Ms Frazer and Mr Cleverly said: “We do not consider that it is necessary in the public interest to withhold these documents from any disclosure or publication and have decided to vary the FRO [final restriction order] so as to allow the disclosure of these documents solely for the purposes of the proceedings.

“In this case, in our judgement, the public interest in promoting the just, speedy and economic resolution of the proceedings outweighs the countervailing public interests.”

They added that the decision made no comment on the merits of the legal claim, adding that this was a matter for the courts to determine.

The intervention by ministers will come as a major boost to the celebrities after a judge ruled in November that they could not use leaked copies of the ledgers in their case as they were supplied to the Leveson inquiry in confidence.

The notice varies a restriction order imposed by Sir Brian Leveson in 2012, meaning the documents can now be used.

Associated Newspapers, which has always denied the allegations, applied to have the claims dismissed partly on the basis that the documents were sealed. The company also argued that the claims were outside a time limit for legal action.

But a judge dismissed this application in November, meaning the case can be heard at trial. It is likely to take place early next year.

It comes a month after the Duke of Sussex dropped a separate libel claim against the Daily Mail.

The prince had sued the publisher over an article in the Mail on Sunday about his taxpayer-funded security arrangements after stepping back as a senior royal.

The newspaper said he would now be liable to pay its legal costs of £250,000.

Associated Newspapers has been contacted for comment.

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