Prince Harry, Sir Elton John, David Furnish and Sadie Frost at the High Court for a hearing against Associated Newspapers over “hacking claims”
Prince Harry, Sir Elton John, his husband David Furnish and other public figures who are suing the Mail newspapers attended the High Court today in a case in which they claim they were attacked for hacking.
Publisher Associated Newspapers categorically denies the claims put forward by a group including the Duke, Sir Elton and Baroness Doreen Lawrence.
Harry, in a black suit and blue tie, smiled as he arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand after flying to London overnight from the United States. Actress Sadie Frost also made it to court.
Prince Harry’s arrival at court was recorded by TV cameras and photographers, with Sky News noting that the duke was not making a statement but chose to arrive via the main entrance, in contrast to Miss Frost, Sir Elton and Mr Furnish, they used a side entrance.
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, arrives at the High Court in London today
Sir Elton John arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice this afternoon, followed by his husband David Furnish (top left)
The judge is told that Associated, which publishes the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, engaged in wiretapping, wiretapping and other illegal activities.
The publisher said it will defend itself vigorously if the case goes to trial. Today’s hearing, which is expected to last four days, is a pretrial hearing in which the publisher asks Judge Nicklin to throw out the claims.
The Duke of Sussex and Miss Frost sat behind their lawyers listening intently as the hearing in Court 76 unfolded. They were not expected to speak.
The seven plaintiffs brought their action last year. His attorney, David Sherborne, alleged in written submissions to the court that the news group engaged in “illegally intercepting voicemail messages, listening to live landline calls, obtaining private information … and using private investigators to commit these illegal acts of gathering information on your behalf”.
Associated Newspapers has said it “fully and unambiguously” denies the “unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims, based on no credible evidence”, which it described at the time as “absurd smears” and an “orchestrated attempt to drag Mail headlines to phone “. -hacking scandal’.
The Mail advocated bringing to justice the murderers of Baroness Lawrence’s son, Stephen. In his statement last October, the publisher said he had “the greatest respect and admiration” for Baroness Lawrence and regretted that “whoever is cynically and unscrupulously orchestrating these claims” persuaded her to join the action.
Sadie Frost was also at the Royal Courts of Justice for the start of the four-day pre-trial hearing.
The newspaper’s lawyers are making three requests at the pretrial hearing.
One is to urge the judge to throw out the case on the grounds that all the claims relate to events said to have taken place up to 30 years ago. Under the law, privacy claims must be filed within six years.
The second request concerns documents (accounting books) that the Mail to the Leveson Inquiry provided in confidence 12 years ago. Those documents are now being used in this case, in violation of a restraining order and confidentiality commitments given to the Inquiry, the newspaper group says.
The third request, which the judge granted, saying it was “justified,” grants the journalists named in the claims anonymity until the court decides whether the case should proceed.
Judge Nicklin said the restrictions “would be limited in time” and stressed: “We are only dealing with the early stages of this claim.” He said his order was justified and meant “the public is better served and people’s rights are protected.” He said he would prevent “one side of the charges from coming forward with the other side absent.”
The newspaper said his request was not an attempt to curtail open justice, but rather to prevent the reputations of distinguished journalists from being destroyed if the case did not reach a full trial. If the case went to trial, the journalists would be named, but at that point they would have a chance to defend themselves.