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Prince Harry hacking claim is ‘Alice in Wonderland stuff’, the Sun lawyers say | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

  • By Dominic Casciani
  • Home and legal correspondent

5 July 2023

Prince Harry’s claim that executives struck a royal deal to stop phone hacking claims is “Alice in Wonderland stuff”, the newspaper’s lawyers have said.

News Group Newspapers wants to stop his claim, saying he ran out of time to sue for alleged privacy breaches.

The royal says he delayed suing because royal aides struck a deal with the tabloid’s owners to receive an apology.

His case against the Sun is one of three damages claims he is pursuing.

In April, lawyers for News Group Newspapers (NGN), the owners of the Sun and the News of the World, which was closed down over hacking, asked the High Court to stop the Duke of Sussex’s damages claim.

They argued he had waited longer than a legal deadline of six years to begin his action.

The duke’s lawyers say that in 2012, NGN had promised to royal aides that he and Prince William would ultimately receive an apology for alleged breaches of their privacy – and they agreed that would come after the media empire had resolved other claims against its newspapers.

But the court heard that during 2017 and 2018, there had been a series of e-mails between Buckingham Palace and NGN executives over how and when to resolve the “unfinished business” – the suggestion being that the Royal Family was running out of patience.

Prince Harry’s lawyers say a lack of progress on an apology and compensation prompted him to launch his own damages claim in 2019.

But fighting back at the High Court on Wednesday, Anthony Hudson KC, for NGN, said it was “Alice in Wonderland stuff” to suggest that these emails amounted to evidence of an agreement.

“He is seeking to rely on an agreement that increasingly seems to be such a secret agreement that nobody other than the claimant knows anything about it,” he said.

“The logic is that the [purported secret] agreement meant that NGN would settle or admit the case. [Prince Harry] doesn’t say who… was involved in making this very significant agreement. No evidence about that at all.

“He does not say who at NGN… entered into this very substantial agreement other than the all-encompassing and vague phrase ‘senior executives’.

Prince Harry’s lawyers have asked the court to consider why there has been no evidence disputing his account of a NGN-Palace agreement from two key executives – Rebekah Brooks and Robert Thompson.

But Mr Hudson said this claim was “Alice In Wonderland stuff” because neither had been in place at the time it was said to have been struck.

Mr Justice Fancourt is expected to rule on the future of Prince Harry’s claim in the coming months.


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