‘Hostile’ story dealt blow to Prince Harry’s integrity, court hears
London: Prince Harry suffered “substantial hurt, embarrassment and distress” after a Mail on Sunday report about one of his court cases inspired a “feeding frenzy of hostile comments” online, his lawyers have claimed.
Harry is suing the newspaper over what he believes is a defamatory article that told “how Harry tried to keep his legal fight over bodyguards secret… then minutes after MoS broke the story his PR machine tried to put positive spin on the dispute”.
Prince Harry.Credit:Chris Jackson
His lawyers say the article, and “adverse and hostile” online comments, were “[exceptionally] serious and damaging” and constitute an “attack on his honesty and integrity” which “undermines his fitness to be involved both in charitable and philanthropic work”.
He has “suffered serious damage to his reputation and substantial hurt, embarrassment and distress which is continuing”, they say, in a High Court case, in which they are seeking “aggravated damages” for the Duke.
The Mail on Sunday article refers to a separate legal case brought by Harry against the Home Office.
He is seeking judicial review of the Government’s decision not to provide police protection for him and his family when they are in the UK. The newspaper first revealed Harry was taking legal action in an online story on the evening of January 15, and in print on January 16.
After the story was posted on MailOnline, Harry’s team sent out a statement confirming that he was seeking judicial review, believing the UK to be unsafe for his family to return to, and noting: “The Duke first offered to pay personally for UK police protection for himself and his family in January of 2020 at Sandringham.”
At that time, Harry was discussing the details of his departure from official royal duties with his brother, father and grandmother at what has become known as the “Sandringham summit”.
When the court case had its first hearing on February 18, lawyers acting for the Government appeared to challenge that statement, saying the offer of payment “was notably not advanced to Ravec [the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures]“, when Harry visited the UK in June 2021 or in any of the immediate correspondence which followed.
The court documents note that “personal protective security is not available on a privately financed basis” and Ravec does not make decisions on security on the basis of payment.
Harry is seeking damages including aggravated damages for libel, an injunction preventing The Mail on Sunday from republishing defamatory statements, and publication of the High Court’s judgement.
Associated Newspapers, which publishes The Mail on Sunday, is defending the claim.
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