Prince Harry Is Suing The Publishers Of The Mail For Libel
The story at the center of the lawsuit concerns the Duke of Sussex’s legal proceedings against the UK government as he seeks police protection for himself and his family.
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Prince Harry is suing the publishers of the Mail on Sunday for libel, according to records filed in London High Court on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the Duke of Sussex confirmed that Harry had filed a legal complaint against Associated Newspapers Limited only two months after his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, secured a victory in a London court of appeals against the company for publishing excerpts of a private letter she sent her estranged father in the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online.
The Sussexes and a spokesperson for ANL declined to comment on the details of the suit. A source with knowledge of the lawsuit confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Harry is suing over a story published Feb. 20 concerning his ongoing legal action against the UK government as he seeks police protection for himself and his family when they are in the country.
The story in question is headlined, “EXCLUSIVE: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government over police bodyguards a SECRET... then - just minutes after the story broke - his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute.”
As of Thursday, ANL has yet to issue a public statement or file a legal response; none of the mainstream outlets it owns — the Daily Mail, Mail Online, Mail on Sunday, Metro, Metro.co.uk, the i newspaper, and inews.co.uk — have written about Harry’s new legal action.
This is the second libel lawsuit Harry has filed against ANL since formally stepping back as a working member of the royal family in March 2020. In November 2020, he sued the publisher over a Mail on Sunday story and a Mail Online story that claimed he had “turned his back” on the Royal Marines after he was forced to give up his position as the ceremonial head of the elite UK military corps upon exiting formal royal life. Following that legal complaint, the Mail printed an apology to the duke and a correction on Dec. 26, 2020, stating, “We now understand that Harry has been in contact in a private capacity with individuals in the military including in the Royal Marines to offer informal support,” The outlet also claimed to have made a donation to the duke’s Invictus Foundation. The case formally closed in February 2021 with the duke being awarded £2,500 in damages.
The story at the center of the new lawsuit claims that the duke and his representatives purposefully sought to keep his legal action against the UK government for police protection out of the press and mislead journalists when the Mail on Sunday published its exclusive story breaking that news on Jan. 16. BuzzFeed News has reached out to the author of both Mail stories, Kate Mansey, for comment.
The Mail on Sunday’s first story revealed that last year Harry filed a request for judicial review against the UK government, challenging a Home Office decision not to grant him police protection when he is in the UK. (You can read more about it in my story here, but essentially it means that Harry won’t have a motorcade or officers armed with guns for security.) Legal representatives for the duke claimed that he had offered to pay for this protection, as he pays for his security team in the US. However, the Home Office dismissed this offer as “irrelevant” in a hearing on Friday, stating that police protection “is not available on a privately financed basis.” The Home Office also challenged a number of the duke’s claims, stating that he did not initially offer to pay and that he and his family do, in fact, qualify for (taxpayer-funded) police protection depending on the reason for their visit to the UK. A judge is currently deciding which parts of the case should be made public.
An interesting component to Harry’s burgeoning lawsuit against ANL concerns the Sussexes’ press office and their policies with regard to different media outlets. In April 2020, shortly after their formal departure from working royal life, representatives for Harry and Meghan released a statement saying that they were cutting off four UK tabloids — the Mail, the Sun, the Mirror, and the Express. "There will be no corroboration and zero engagement," the statement read. They emphasized that this was not a policy for all outlets, just these four tabloids and their sibling publications. Harry and Meghan, the statement said, won’t “offer themselves up as currency for an economy of clickbait and distortion.” The Sussexes’ media team has not announced any changes to this policy over the past two years.