Prince Harry, Elton John and others sue Daily Mail publisher

Several public figures are suing the UK paper group over alleged breaches of privacy, including phone-tapping.

Prince Harry attends the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in the UK.
The UK's Prince Harry and singer Elton John are among several public figures suing the publisher of the Daily Mail newspaper over alleged phone-tapping and other breaches of privacy [File: Toby Melville/Reuters]

The United Kingdom’s Prince Harry and singer Elton John are among several public figures suing the publisher of the Daily Mail newspaper over alleged phone tapping and other breaches of privacy.

The others taking part in the legal action are actresses Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost, Elton John’s husband and filmmaker David Furnish, and Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993.

The six had “become aware of compelling and highly distressing evidence that they have been the victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy” by Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), said a statement released on Thursday by law firm Hamlins acting for the group.

It said the breaches included hiring private investigators to place listening devices inside people’s cars and homes, commissioning the bugging of live, private telephone calls, payment of police officials for sensitive information, and impersonating individuals to obtain medical records.

“They have now therefore banded together to uncover the truth, and to hold the journalists responsible fully accountable, many of whom still hold senior positions of authority and power today,” Hamlins said in its statement.

Hamlins said it was representing Harry, younger son of King Charles, and Frost, while Lawrence, Hurley, John and Furnish are being represented by the law firm gunnercooke.

ANL, publisher of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday and the Mail Online, one of the most widely read news websites in the world, said it “utterly and unambiguously” denied the allegations.

“We utterly and unambiguously refute these preposterous smears, which appear to be nothing more than a preplanned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone-hacking scandal concerning articles up to 30 years old,” a spokesman for the publisher said.

“These unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims – based on no credible evidence – appear to be simply a fishing expedition by claimants and their lawyers, some of whom have already pursued cases elsewhere.”

There have been a number of damages claims over unlawful activity at newspapers in the wake of the UK’s phone-hacking scandal.

Lawrence, whose son was killed in a racially motivated attack in south London in 1993, had also lodged a claim against Rupert Murdoch-owned News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of various titles, including The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World.

While most of those claims have now been settled, this is the first claim to be brought against ANL.

NGN settled claims relating to the News Of The World, while never admitting any liability for claims made in relation to The Sun.

Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) has settled claims relating to its titles, including The People and The Sunday Mirror.

Both publishers are currently facing further claims, and have recently made attempts to bring the long-running litigation to an end.

Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has already brought a number of lawsuits against Associated Newspapers’s publications.

He is currently suing the Mail on Sunday for libel over an article which stated he had tried to keep secret details of his legal fight to reinstate his police protection, and last year won damages from the same paper over claims he had turned his back on the Royal Marines.

His wife Meghan also won a privacy case against the publisher last December for printing a letter she had written to her estranged father.

The couple’s relations with the British tabloid press collapsed following their marriage in 2018, and they have previously said they would have “zero engagement” with four major British papers, including the Daily Mail, accusing them of false and invasive coverage.

Media intrusion was a major factor they cited in their decision to step down from royal duties and move to the United States two years ago.

Source: News Agencies