Lawyers for publisher Associated Newspapers criticized Prince Harry’s libel claim on Friday, arguing that his case is “built on sand” in response to the British royal’s recent request that a judge waive a trial and rule on his favor.
The Duke of Sussex sued Associated Newspapers Limited last year about an article in his Mail on Sunday newspaper, which claimed he tried to cover up a separate legal battle over the British government’s refusal to allow him to foot the bill for his own security during visits to the UK.
The 38-year-old prince and his wife, Meghan Markle, lost access to publicly funded UK police protection when they abandoned their royal duties in 2020 and moved to California. Harry said he has since offered to pay for his family’s protection whenever they travel to his home country, but the government rejected the offer, telling him it would be impossible.
As a result, Harry has said he does not feel safe traveling with his family, including his two young children, Prince Archie, almost 4, and Princess Lilibet, almost 2.
The article at the center of the lawsuit was published in February 2022.
The headline read: “How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government secret over police bodyguards… then, just minutes after the story broke, his PR machine tried to give him a positive turn to the dispute”.
According to the lawsuit, the defamatory charge is that Harry was not honest in public statements about the conflict.
On Friday, one of Harry’s lawyers, Justin Rushbrooke, argued that Associated Newspapers Limited had nothing on which to base a defense and asked the judge rule in Harry’s favor and waive a trialreported Reuters.
Associated Newspapers lawyer Andrew Caldecott was quick to respond, claiming that the British royal’s request was “totally without merit.” He also noted that the publisher has a strong “honest opinion” argument.
Caldecott specifically cited a statement issued by Harry’s representatives in January 2022, saying it falsely claimed that the government had rejected Harry’s offer to pay for police protection. Furthermore, he argued that the prince admitted that he did not offer to foot the bill for protecting him before taking legal action.
with cable news services