Britain’s Prince William settled a phone-hacking claim against media mogul Rupert Murdoch's UK newspaper group for a “very large sum” in 2020, according to court documents submitted for a hearing in London on Tuesday. The 40-year-old Prince of Wales was reportedly part of a “secret agreement” struck by the royal family, which News Group Newspapers (NGN) has denied.
The agreement emerged as William’s younger brother, Prince Harry, is fighting NGN’s claim that he has run out of time to bring his High Court claim in London as the case opened for a three-day hearing this week. The 38-year-old Duke of Sussex is suing NGN, publisher of ‘The Sun’ and the now-defunct ‘News Of The World’ newspapers, over alleged unlawful information gathering at its titles. According to ‘The Daily Telegraph’, NGN is asking Justice Timothy Fancourt to throw out the claim, arguing it has been brought too late.
"HRH William, Prince of Wales, similarly brought a claim against NGN which it settled for a very large sum of money in 2020,” the court documents state, without giving any further details about William’s settlement.
Responding to the publisher’s strike out application in court, Harry’s lawyers said it was an attempt to go behind a “secret agreement” between the royal family as an institution and NGN, which the Duke was informed of in 2012. In documents before the court, David Sherborne, representing Harry, said the late Queen was involved in “authorisation” of the agreement, which was that members of the royal family would not pursue claims against NGN until after the conclusion of the litigation over hacking.
The result of this alleged deal was that the princes would delay legal proceedings against the newspaper group in return for receiving an apology at a later date. A statement from Prince Harry in the court documents claims: “My brother and I were also told by either the institution’s solicitor... or someone else from the institution that there was no possibility of either of us bringing a claim against NGN for phone hacking at that time.
“The rationale behind this was that a secret agreement had been reached between the institution and senior executives at NGN, whereby members of the royal family would bring phone hacking claims only at the conclusion of the Mobile Telephone Voicemail Interception Litigation and at that stage the claims would be admitted or settled with an apology.” The claim is one of a number of legal actions currently being pursued in UK courts by Harry, who appeared in person at the London High Court last month for a preliminary hearing in a privacy case against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL).
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