July 27 (UPI) — A British High Court judge on Thursday threw out an effort by Prince Harry to sue the Sun tabloid owner News Group Newspapers over phone hacking but said his allegations regarding the group’s use of private investigators can proceed.
“I will grant News Group summary judgment on its defense of the claim in respect only of the claims of phone-hacking during the period 1996-2011. In respect of all other allegations of unlawful acts during that period as identified in the claim, I dismiss the application for summary judgment,” Justice Timothy Fancourt’s ruling stated.
The judge ruled that the time to sue over the hacking claim had expired before Harry filed the case.
“By September 2013, the Duke knew that he had been hacked by the News of the World, and knew enough relevant facts about phone-hacking at The Sun (or could readily have discovered them by asking his staff or lawyers) to understand that he had a worthwhile phone-hacking claim in relation to The Sun too. That was sufficient to start time running before September 2013 for his phone-hacking claim. Time therefore expired before the Duke issued his claim form in 2019,” Fancourt wrote.
With regard to the use of private investigators, Fancourt wrote that the judgment doesn’t determine that the claim was made in time but “only decides that it is not sufficiently clear at this stage that it was issued too late.”
Whether the Duke issued his claim for these other Unlawful Acts too late is one of the many issues in the claim that will have to be decided at trial, in 2024 or 2025,” he wrote.
Harry sued NGN, owner of the Sun and the now-defunct News of The World, claiming he had been targeted for 15 years by the tabloid company that had used allegedly illegal means to publish information about him.
NGN hailed the ruling as a “significant victory in a statement Thursday.
“This substantially reduces the scope of his legal claim. The exact nature and scope of any trial of the remainder will be the subject of further hearings,” it said.
Harry also lost an effort to bring evidence into the case about an alleged secret agreement between Buckingham Palace and NGN that prevented NGN from asserting legal claims had been brought too late.
“The Judge, Mr. Justice Fancourt, found his claims in relation to the alleged ‘secret agreement’ were not plausible or credible. It is quite clear there was never any such agreement and it is only the Duke who has ever asserted there was,” NGN said.
The High Court said in its judgment,