Prince Harry was summoned to Buckingham Palace and was told to drop the cases against Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper, according to a BBC report.
The Duke of Sussex is suing Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers (NGN) at the High Court in London for multiple unlawful acts allegedly committed on behalf of its tabloids, the Sun and the now-defunct News of the World, from the mid-1990s until 2016.
NGN, which has paid out millions of pounds to settle more than a thousand phone-hacking cases, is trying this week to strike out Harry’s claim, and that of British actor Hugh Grant, arguing they should have taken action sooner, according to a report by Reuters.
Harry railed against senior NGN figures and his own family, whom he has accused of colluding with the press to protect their image, saying a “secret agreement” was struck between Buckingham Palace and senior figures at NGN to avoid embarrassment, according to a 31-page witness statement.
Prince Harry has claimed that Buckingham Palace and the newspaper group had struck a backroom deal – which is why he did not bring a claim earlier. He said he first became aware of the alleged deal in around 2012, BBC report said.
Duke of Sussex claimed that under the deal, courtiers had secretly agreed that members of the Royal Family would put off legal claims, and the newspaper group promised to one day settle out-of-court, to protect their image.
Citing the reason, Prince Harry said, “The reason for this was to avoid the situation where a member of the Royal Family would have to sit in the witness box and recount the specific details of the private and highly-sensitive voicemails that had been intercepted.”
In his submission, NGN’s lawyer Anthony Hudson denied there was any “secret agreement” between the publisher and the royal family. He argued that, even if there was a deal, it did not affect their case that the lawsuit was brought too late.
In 2012, Murdoch’s British newspaper group issued an unreserved apology for widespread hacking carried out by journalists at the News of the World, which the media mogul had been forced to shut down amid a backlash, although it still rejects any allegations of wrongdoing at the Sun.
During a criminal trial brought against News of the World journalists and others in 2014, its former royal editor Clive Goodman said in the mid-2000s he had hacked the voicemails of Harry and William, and those of William’s wife, Kate, Reuters report said.
Her phone was hacked 155 times, William’s 35 and Harry’s nine times, Goodman said.
It is also said that Prince William settled a phone-hacking claim against Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. newspaper arm for a “very large sum”.