- Written by Dominic Casciani and Francesca Gillett
- BBC News
Court papers said King Charles had tried to stop the Duke of Sussex from taking legal action against newspapers over the alleged phone hack.
In a witness statement, Prince Harry said he was “summoned to Buckingham Palace” and asked to drop the cases because of the impact on the family.
The Duke is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, over allegations of illegal information gathering.
But NGN wants to stop the claim, saying Harry has run out of time to make it.
The case is one of three major cases Prince Harry has brought against tabloids, all of which allege illegal information gathering. Other cases concern the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail groups.
Prince Harry is accusing Sun reporters and private investigators of illegally interfering with his personal life, which dates back to when he was a teenager.
In documents unsealed in the High Court on Tuesday, Harry claimed that Buckingham Palace and the press group struck a secret deal – which is why he didn’t sue earlier. He said he first learned of the alleged deal around 2012.
Under the deal, he said, the courtiers secretly agreed that the royals would defer legal suits, and the press group allegedly promised one day an out-of-court settlement to spare the royal family embarrassment.
“The reason for this is to avoid the situation where a member of the royal family has to sit in the witness box and recount the specific details of the intercepted very private and sensitive voicemails.”
Prince Harry said courtiers were “incredibly nervous” about repeating damaging revelations of an intimate phone call between his father and Camilla, the Queen’s Queen, which was intercepted and made public at a time when King Charles was still married to Diana.
NGN’s lawyers deny the existence of a confidentiality agreement.
According to court documents, by 2018 Harry said he was “frustrated that nothing had been resolved” and wanted to “force a resolution” to the phone hack allegations.
He said the late queen supported trying to keep the publisher at its word and agreeing to a settlement, agreeing to email a royal staff to the press group and raise the possibility of involving lawyers.
But when he eventually decided to sue in 2019, Prince Harry claimed his father then tried to stop him.
The Duke said: “I have been summoned to Buckingham Palace and specifically asked to drop the legal proceedings as it has ‘an impact on the whole family’.”
“This was a direct request (or rather a request) from my father, Edward Young, and my father’s private secretary, Clive Alderton.”
Prince William has settled in privately
Prince Harry’s court papers also allege that his brother, Prince William, was paid a “very large sum” by the Sun’s owners to settle his historic phone hack allegations.
The payment was made in 2020 – but the documents don’t disclose how much Prince William paid and don’t contain details of what.
A spokesman for the Prince of Wales said they would not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.
NGN denied any confidentiality agreement existed, with Anthony Hudson KS saying:
He said Prince Harry did not say who made the agreement, who it applies to, when it was made, or the date it was supposed to end.
The Sun’s owners say the Duke of Sussex’s damages claim should be quashed because Prince Harry has run out of time – and are applying to have his case terminated.
If they succeed in their application, it could prevent a high-profile damages claim from actor Hugh Grant.
Grant’s attorneys also oppose the paper’s attempt to close the case during the three-day hearing this week.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will determine whether their claims will advance to a trial, which is scheduled to be heard in January next year.
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