The Duke of Sussexhas won his defamation case against British tabloid The Mail on Sunday. A High Court judge has ruled that parts of an article written by the publication, which claimed that Prince Harry attempted to keep his legal claim against the UK Home Office 'secret,' were defamatory.
Prince Harry suing for defamation
Harry was suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) after the publication ran a piece about a separate High Court hearing in regards to his security arrangements in the UK.
The article was published in February with the title: 'Exclusive: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight with the government over police bodyguards a secret... then - just minutes after the story broke - his PR machine tried to put a positive spin on the dispute.'
Harry claimed the story caused 'serious damage to his reputation and substantial hurt, embarrassment and distress which is continuing,' as reported by Variety.
At a hearing in June, Mr Justice Nicklin was asked to determine whether parts of the article were defamatory. Lawyers for the Duke of Sussex argued that it was. Justin Rushbrooke QC said, as reported by theMirror:
Allegations that a person has lied to the public, manipulated the public and attempted to keep secret which ought properly to be public are serious ones which tend to lower him in the eyes of right-thinking people.
However, lawyers for ANL argued the contrary. Andrew Caldecott QC said:
The article does allege that the claimant's PR team spun the story, or added a gloss unduly favourable to the claimant, which led to inaccurate reporting and confusion about the nature of the claim.
Prince Harry wins defamation case
Mr Justice Nicklin ruled in favour of Harry, saying a reader would think the Duke
Was responsible for public statements, issued on his behalf, which claimed that he was willing to pay for police protection in the UK, and that his legal challenge was to the Government's refusal to permit him to do so, whereas the true position, as revealed in documents filed in the legal proceedings, was that he had only made the offer to pay after the proceedings had commenced.
He also said the piece would have been read as suggesting Harry 'was responsible for trying to mislead and confuse the public as to the true position, which was ironic given that he now held a public role in tackling 'misinformation".'
Mr Justice Nicklin added, as reported by the Mirror:
It may be possible to 'spin' facts in a way that does not mislead, but the allegation being made in the article was very much that the object was to mislead the public.
That supplies the necessary element to make the meanings defamatory at common law.