Prince Harry sues tabloid for defamation over security story

LONDON — Prince Harry’s lawyers on Friday asked a judge to rule that a tabloid slandered the British king with an article about his search for police protection as he and his family visit the UK

Harry is suing Mail on Sunday publisher Associated Newspapers Ltd. over an article alleging he tried to cover up his separate challenge over the UK government’s refusal to make him pay for police security.

During a hearing in the High Court in London, Harry’s lead counsel urged Judge Matthew Nickin to either drop the editor’s defense or issue summary judgment that would rule in the prince’s favor without a trial.

Attorney Justin Rushbrooke said the facts did not support the “substantive defense” that the article expressed an “honest opinion.”

Harry was not in court at the hearing. The prince, also known as the Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan lost their publicly funded British police protection when they stepped down as senior working royals and relocated to North America in 2020.

Harry’s lawyers said the prince was reluctant to bring the couple’s children – Prince Archie, who is almost four, and Princess Lilibet, almost two – to his home country because it was not safe.

PHOTOS: Prince Harry sues tabloid for defamation over security story

The 38-year-old prince wants to personally pay for police security when he comes to the UK, but the government said that was not possible. Last year a judge gave Harry permission to sue the government. This case has yet to go to court.

Harry sued Associated Newspapers over a February 2022 Mail on Sunday article headlined “Exclusive: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal battle with the government over police bodyguards secret…then – just minutes after the story broke – tried.” his PR machinery to put a positive spin on the dispute.”

Harry claims the newspaper slandered him by suggesting the prince lied in his first public statements about the lawsuit against the government.

In July, Nicklin ruled that the article was defamatory and allowed the case to proceed. The judge has not yet addressed issues such as whether the story was accurate or in the public interest.

Harry, the younger son of King Charles III, and former actress Meghan Markle wed at Windsor Castle in 2018 but stepped down as working royals in 2020, citing what they described as intolerable interference and racist attitudes from the British media.

Harry’s anger at the British press runs through his memoir, Spare, which was released in January. He blames an overly aggressive press for the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997 and accuses the media of similarly persecuting Meghan.

The pair have not hesitated to use the UK courts to hit back at what they see as media mistreatment. In December 2021, Meghan won a privacy invasion case against Associated Newspapers over the Mail on Sunday’s publication of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.

Harry is also among the celebrities suing Associated Newspapers over alleged phone hacking, and he has filed a separate hacking lawsuit against the publisher of another tabloid, The Mirror.

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