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Prince Harry's Landline Calls were Bugged by Murdoch’s Tabloids, Say Lawyers

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on March 22, 2024, 16:16:41

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prince harry, tabloid, bugged, lawyers, Rupert murdoch

Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid papers allegedly intercepted Prince Harry’s landline phones and accessed the messages on the pager of his late mother Princess Diana, as disclosed by the British royal’s legal team to the London High Court.

Harry, the younger son of King Charles and the late Princess Diana, along with more than 40 others, are suing News Group Newspapers (NGN) over allegations of unlawful activities by journalists and private investigators associated with its tabloids, the Sun and the now-defunct News of the World, spanning from the mid-1990s until 2016.

In a ruling last July, Judge Timothy Fancourt allowed Harry to proceed to trial with claims of unlawful information gathering, while dismissing allegations of mobile phone hacking due to being filed too late.

During a hearing at the High Court on Thursday, Harry’s legal team sought to amend his lawsuit in response to the ruling, and to introduce additional allegations.

These new claims include assertions that the Sun commissioned private investigators to target his then-girlfriend and now-wife Meghan in 2016, as well as accusations of widespread phone bugging.

According to court documents, Harry's lawyers stated: “The claimant also brings a claim and seeks relief in relation to the interception of landline calls, the interception of calls from cordless phones and analogue mobile calls and the interception of landline voicemails, as distinct from phone hacking.”

The claim also involves allegations regarding Diana, who "was under close surveillance and her calls were being unlawfully intercepted by NGN, which was known about by its editors and senior executives."

NGN is contesting the addition of what they referred to as a “significant number of new allegations” for various reasons, including their late submission, lack of evidence, and their overlap with previously dismissed phone-hacking claims.

NGN’s lawyers argued in court filings: “They cover time periods falling outside the scope of the current pleading and the generic statements of case, and in many cases relate to allegations which have been well-publicised for as long as 30 years.”

NGN’s lawyers also expressed doubts about the feasibility of Harry's case being heard at a trial expected to commence in January next year if his new allegations were to be included.

In 2011, NGN issued an apology for widespread phone hacking by journalists at the News of the World, a publication that Murdoch subsequently shut down due to public outcry. Despite settling over 1,300 claims since then, NGN has consistently denied any wrongdoing by Sunstaff.

During proceedings on Wednesday, lawyers representing Harry and other claimants asserted that Murdoch and other senior executives were complicit in covering up widespread misconduct, providing false evidence to courts, parliament and a public inquiry.

NGN contends that some claimants are utilising these lawsuits as a means to attack the tabloid press and dismisses allegations against its current and former staff as “a baseless and cynical assault on their integrity.”

Since stepping back from royal duties in 2020 to relocate to California, Harry has focused on confronting the British press, alleging intrusion into his private life since childhood and dissemination of false information about him and his loved ones.

In December, Harry won a lawsuit against Mirror Group Newspapers over allegations of phone hacking and unlawful activities, with the judge acknowledging that senior figures were aware of the wrongdoing.

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