Written by 10:39 World

Prince Harry Cannot Include Rupert Murdoch in Lawsuit, Court Rules

Prince Harry was dealt a setback in his long-running legal campaign against Britain’s tabloids on Tuesday after a high court rejected a bid to draw Rupert Murdoch into allegations about how Mr. Murdoch’s London papers dug up personal details about him and later concealed or destroyed evidence of it.

Justice Timothy Fancourt ruled that lawyers for Harry and about 40 other plaintiffs could not amend their complaint against News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, to include Mr. Murdoch, the 93-year-old media mogul who controls the company, as well as other senior News Group executives.

“There is a desire on the part of those running the litigation on the claimants’ side to shoot at ‘trophy’ targets, whether those are political issues or high-profile individuals,” Justice Fancourt declared in the 284-page ruling. “This cannot become an end in itself. It only matters to the court so far as it is material and proportionate to the resolution of the individual causes of action.”

“The trial,” he added, “is not an inquiry.”

The judge also rejected Harry’s attempt to broaden the time frame of the alleged unlawful actions to before 1996 and after 2011, saying his lawyers had filed that amendment too late. That rules out allegations of actions targeted at his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, or his wife, Meghan.

The case, which is scheduled to go to trial in January, will mark one of the final chapters of the sprawling litigation that flowed out of the phone-hacking scandal — an episode that upended Britain’s newspaper industry, triggered the closing of a major tabloid, News of the World, and led to changes in journalistic practices.

Harry has been at the vanguard of that effort, filing lawsuits against three London publishers for what he says was a decades-long campaign of unlawful intrusion. The litigation has produced some notable victories, including a judgment last December against the publisher of the Daily Mirror that it had hacked his cellphone and used other unlawful methods to gather information on him.

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Last modified: 23 May 2024
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