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Prince Harry suffers legal setback against Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun newspaper | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


Prince Harry has suffered a setback in his latest legal skirmish with The Sun publisher, after a judge ruled he cannot take allegations against Rupert Murdoch to trial.

The Duke of Sussex, 39, alleges he was targeted by journalists and private investigators working for Mr Murdoch’s media outlet, and is among 42 claims to be brought against the tabloid.

Lawyers for the prince had sought permission to update parts of his case as they sought to link NGN executives such as Mr Murdoch to knowledge of hacking and unlawful activity.

However, in a new ruling on Tuesday, Mr Justice Fancourt refused permission for allegations to be brought against the 93-year-old media magnate and other senior executives, on the basis they would add nothing to allegations already made against other senior NGN bosses.

Rupert Murdoch was previously a director of News International, now News UK, the parent company of News Group Newspapers (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive)

Barristers representing various individuals suing the company over allegations of unlawful information-gathering claimed earlier this year that Mr Murdoch knew of unlawful activity as early as 2004 but “turned a blind eye” to the allegations while overseeing a “culture of impunity” at the publisher.

The High Court had previously heard that the final editor of the News of the World had confirmed to police that his boss Rebekah Brooks and Mr Murdoch had known about hacking by early 2011, after being informed of a reporter’s confession.

“The Claimants will seek the inference that Rupert Murdoch… was told about the Guardian allegations … and knew that the denial published by his company… was false or, at the very least, turned a blind eye to its veracity and that of the allegations,” they said in legal papers.

NGN, which also published the defunct News Of The World, denies the accusations, with its lawyers previously telling the court the new allegations were a “scurrilous and cynical attack”.

In relation to Harry’s case, Mr Justice Fancourt also refused permission to add new allegations relating to the years 1994, 1995 and 2016 and for other amendments that add to the allegations of phone hacking.

It comes after News Group Newspapers (NGN) lost their bid to push back a full High Court trial, after they asked to hold a narrower-in-scope trial to decide if the cases had been brought too late.

They currently face accusations dating as far back as 1993, which include blagging information, burglaries and bugging.

In a ruling in April, Mr Justice Fancourt dismissed their request, saying it was “unsatisfactory” to delay the case by up to two years and increase overall costs.

The publisher has previously denied unlawful activity took place at The Sun, while they have paid out hundreds of millions to victims of the phone hacking scandal at their former paper News of the World.

Hugh Grant has settled his High Court claim against The Sun publisher (James Manning/PA) (PA Archive)

However, a previous hearing heard that the prince could be forced to settle his claim against NGN because of the risks of high legal costs.

David Sherborne, representing Harry and others, said the duke was “subject to the same issues” as actress Sienna Miller and actor Hugh Grant who both previously said legal costs contributed to the settlement of their cases.

Mr Grant said he had been told by lawyers he risked being liable for £10 million in costs even if he was successful at a trial.

NGN welcomed the decision, with a spokesperson saying: “In 2011 an unreserved apology was made by NGN to victims of voicemail interception by the News of the World. Since then NGN has been paying financial damages to those with proper claims.

“In some cases, it has made commercial sense for both parties to come to a settlement agreement before trial to bring a resolution to the matter. As we reach the tail end of the litigation, NGN is drawing a line under the disputed matters.

“These civil proceedings have been running for more than a decade and deal with events 13-28 years ago.

“At a hearing in March 2024, the Claimants sought to introduce wide ranging allegations into their pleadings. NGN argued that a number of these were irrelevant to the fair and just determination of claims and had nothing to do with seeking compensation for victims of phone hacking or unlawful information gathering.

“The Court in its Judgment today has thoroughly vindicated NGN’s position and did not give permission to introduce large and significant portions of the amendments.”

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