A step in the right direction for Prince Harry!
The Duke of Sussex has pulled out his first win in his libel case against The Mail on Sunday over what he claims was a “defamatory” story.
In February, the prince filed a lawsuit against the newspaper’s publisher, Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), over an article he claimed caused “serious damage to his reputation and substantial hurt, embarrassment and distress which is continuing,” via Variety. Now, the first ruling has been made in the case, and it’s in the 37-year-old’s favor!
Judge Matthew Nicklin, a High Court judge in London, ruled on Friday that The Mail on Sunday’s article was “defamatory.” Wow! He said via ITV:
“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.”
While this is huge for the royal, it doesn’t mean this is the end of the road for either party in the case. It’s now up to the newspaper to defend their article; for instance if they can prove what they wrote was true then it isn’t libel. The judge continued by insisting “this is very much the first phase” of the case, adding per BBC:
“The next step will be for the defendant to file a defence to the claim. It will be a matter for determination later in the proceedings whether the claim succeeds or fails, and if so on what basis.”
AKA: a long legal battle may still await! Either way, this is definitely a good sign for Harry!
As mentioned, he first filed this lawsuit in February just shortly after the publication reported on a separate legal battle he’s fighting against the British government. In his case against the UK’s Home Office, Meghan Markle’s husband is seeking a judicial review to force the gov to provide police protection for his entire family (including kids Archie and Lilibet) whenever they are in the country. They lost this protection when they “stepped back” as working royals in 2020.
In the filing, he claimed he would be willing to pay for the security detail, but that he just wanted to ensure his family would get the best of the best protecting them (and not a private security firm). Harry’s case with The Mail on Sunday revolves around this fact because when they published their article, they allegedly implied that Harry was lying about paying for the police protection. The original article in question was published with the title:
“Exclusive: How Prince Harry tried to keep his legal fight over bodyguards a secret… then minutes after MoS broke the story his PR machine tried to put positive spin on the dispute.”
According to the prince’s lawsuit, it “manipulate and confuse public opinion” against him, especially when referencing “spin doctors”. The lawsuit claimed that the article made it seem like Harry had allowed these “spin doctors” to “put out false and misleading statements about his willingness to pay for police protection.”
The lawsuit went on to call the article “self-evidently exceptionally serious and damaging,” adding:
“ an attack on his honesty and integrity and undermine his fitness to be involved both in charitable and philanthropic work in general, and in efforts to tackle online misinformation in particular (through the Archewell Foundation).”
Seems like the judge agrees with that part!
The father of two has asked for aggravated damages for libel, an injunction barring The Mail on Sunday from re-publishing the claims, and an order to compel The Mail on Sunday to publish its judgment.
All this is very similar to a case his wife won last year when she sued the same tabloid for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement when they published a letter she wrote to her estranged father, Thomas Markle.
Harry’s case against UK’s Home Office is also moving steadily ahead btw. On Thursday, his legal team appeared in court for a hearing in which they argued the government’s decision to withdraw his police protection was “unsound” because of “procedural unfairness,” via BBC. Apparently, the decision was made by a committee that included a few members of the Royal Household — who were experiencing “significant tensions” with Harry and Meghan at the time! Yeah, not the people you want deciding your fate! The lawyers also insisted that Harry’s intention to pay for the security detail himself “was not conveyed” to the committee. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the rest of these cases play out! Thoughts?!
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