Prince Harry dragged his brother into his war against the British press by claiming that the future monarch had “quietly” settled a phone hacking claim for a “very large sum”.
The Duke of Sussex has claimed that Prince William was paid compensation as part of a ‘secret agreement’ – and has accused the Queen of being involved in the deal.
He allegedly received the money ‘behind the scenes’ in 2020 from News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News of the World.
It was revealed as part of Prince Harry’s battle against NGN with actor Hugh Grant, who is suing the group over alleged illegal information gathering in the titles.
Today, today’s press group urged Judge Fancourt to dismiss both claims in the Supreme Court, arguing that they were made too late.
Prince Harry dragged his brother (pictured together) into his war against the British press by claiming that the future monarch had “quietly” settled a phone hacking claim for a “very large sum”
The Duke of Sussex has claimed that Prince William (pictured with Kate) received compensation as part of a ‘secret agreement’
However, David Sherburne, who represents Harry, said the “confidentiality agreement” meant that “the plaintiff could not bring a claim against NGN for phone hacking at that time”.
He said the Queen was personally involved in the “discussions and authorization” of the deal.
Prince Harry, who was watching via video link, provided a 31-page affidavit in which he disclosed that he had paid his brother to “prove the existence of this secret agreement”.
Presumably in the deal, the royal family agrees not to pursue NGN until after the newspaper group’s litigation battle with other piracy claimants has ended, at which point the royal family’s allegations will be quietly “accepted or settled with an apology.”
But NGN’s Anthony Hudson KC said the publisher’s position was that “there is no such confidentiality agreement”.
He said that while viewing the communications “discussions have taken place between the palace and NGN,” they “offer no support for the suggestion that there is an agreement whereby NGN waives its right to present a limited defense in response to any allegations by members of the royal family.”
Prince Harry has claimed the deal was made in order to “avoid a situation” in which members of the royal family would have to “sit in the witness box and recount the specifics” of private voicemails.
He said his family was ‘very nervous about it and wanted to avoid it at all costs’ after the damaging Tambungit intercepted call between King Charles and Queen Camilla in 1989.
Prince Harry’s representatives said the Queen was personally involved in the “discussions and authorization” of the deal
The Duke of Sussex said he and his brother were told about the ‘confidential agreement’, which prevented them from making allegations, in 2012.
But he was frustrated when it wasn’t until 2018 when he and Meghan Markle held their wedding that it wasn’t settled until he and Meghan Markle had their wedding, to which he would be called the “principal culprits of this breach.”
He said: ‘I remember speaking to my brother and saying something along the lines of, ‘Enough of this, I want permission to press for a resolution to our phone hacking allegations and a formal apology from Murdoch in front of any of his people allowed anywhere near the wedding.'”
Prince Harry said William was “very understanding and supportive” and suggested he “ask Grandma for permission.”
The Duke of Sussex said: “I spoke to her shortly afterwards and said something along the lines of ‘Are you happy I’m going to push this forward, do I have your permission?'” And she said, “Yes.”
He claimed that the Queen had given a “green light” to her communications director, Sally Osman, to push NGN executives to “broker a resolution and an apology from Mr Murdoch”.
But Prince Harry claimed he was frustrated when there was then an “extension of the confidentiality agreement” because NGN was not ready to apologize in time for the wedding.
He finally decided to ‘break with royal tradition and instruct my private attorney to initiate phone hacking proceedings against NGN’ in 2019.
Prince Harry claims he was frustrated when there was a ‘confidentiality agreement extension’ because NGN was unwilling to apologize in time for his wedding to Meghan
But after doing so “he was summoned to Buckingham Palace and specifically told to drop the legal proceedings as it had ‘an effect on the whole family'”.
He claimed that this was “a direct request, or rather a request, from my father” and the senior royal staff.
Prince Harry then compared his treatment to that of his brother, who he said had ‘settled his claim with a huge amount of money in 2020’ without NGN offering him a similar request, without telling any of the public, and apparently with a favorable deal in exchange for him going ‘quietly’. So to speak “.
He said, “This proves the existence of this secret agreement between the foundation and senior executives of NGN.”
Lord Grabiner KC, the former independent chair of the Management and Standards Committee set up by News Corp to investigate allegations of phone hacking, has denied knowledge of a secret deal between executives and the royal family.
“I can affirm with great confidence that such an agreement was never mentioned to me, nor otherwise brought to my attention,” he said in a witness statement.
“I am also not aware of any agreement whereby NGN waived its right to sue for restriction on any claims brought by members of the royal family.”
Harry is fighting three separate legal battles against three media groups, all of whom claim illegal activities were used to target him in the name of journalism.
Last month, he appeared in person for his case against the Daily Mail publisher, and the judge is considering whether the case should be allowed to go to full trial.
Kensington Palace declined to comment on behalf of the Prince of Wales.