A British judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed by Prince Harry, Elton John, and five other public figures against the publisher of the Daily Mail should proceed to a full trial. The claimants accuse Associated Newspapers Ltd. of illegal surveillance, including the use of private detectives and listening devices. The judge’s decision comes after the publisher sought to dismiss the case without trial, arguing that defense lawyers had not presented sufficient evidence against the claims.
Allegations of Unlawful Information Gathering
The seven claimants, including Elton John, David Furnish, Elizabeth Hurley, Sadie Frost, Doreen Lawrence, and Simon Hughes, allege that the Daily Mail unlawfully collected information by bugging homes and cars, recording phone conversations, and using deceit to obtain medical records. Prince Harry specifically claims that he and those close to him were targeted through activities such as hacking voicemails, tapping landlines, and obtaining detailed phone bills and flight information.
Publisher’s Denial and Attempt to Dismiss the Case
Associated Newspapers strongly denies the allegations and had requested the dismissal of the case. The defense argued that the claims, dating back to 1993, were brought too late and relied on confidential evidence from a 2012 public inquiry into tabloid wrongdoing. The judge ruled that the claimants cannot rely on these confidential documents but asserted that the case can proceed as the claims have a “real prospect of succeeding.”
Claimants’ Response and Intent for Trial
In response to the judge’s decision, the claimants expressed their satisfaction. They stated that they intend to bring their claims to trial to expose the “deplorable and illegal activities” that allegedly occurred over many years, including the hiring of private investigators for eavesdropping and the illegal accessing of medical and financial information.
Significance of the Ruling and Future Proceedings
The judge’s decision marks a significant development in Prince Harry’s efforts to hold the British tabloid press accountable. The lawsuit is part of a series of legal actions taken by Prince Harry against media organizations, stemming from his commitment to curbing press intrusion, which he believes played a role in the death of his mother, Princess Diana.
A new hearing in the case is set for November 21, with the trial date yet to be scheduled. If the case proceeds to trial, Prince Harry may provide evidence, continuing his mission to address issues of privacy and media responsibility that have been at the forefront of his public advocacy.