Prince Harry takes early loss in libel case

 December 9, 2023

A judge ruled against Prince Harry on Friday. 

This, according to the Associated Press, took place in the libel case that Harry has brought against the publisher of the Daily Mail.

As we will see, it is only a preliminary ruling.

In other words, Harry has not lost the case - at least, not yet.

What's going on?

The lawsuit regards an article that the Associated Newspapers published in 2022.

Reuters reports:

Harry, King Charles' younger son, sued publisher Associated Newspapers last year over a 2022 article which alleged he only offered to pay for police protection after bringing a separate legal fight against the British government. The report also accused Harry, 39, of attempting to mislead the public about his willingness to pay for the policing, which was withdrawn after he stepped back from royal duties in 2020.

Harry maintains that this reporting is not accurate. He claims, according to Reuters, that he "first offered to pay for police protection at a crisis meeting with the late Queen Elizabeth, his father, and brother Prince William at the royal Sandringham estate in January 2020."

The Associated Newspapers, however, disputes this, maintaining that Harry has admitted, in correspondence with the British government, that he did not offer to pay for police protection until after he had initiated his legal action.

The publisher has also maintained that a representative of Harry's - before the controversial article was published - falsely claimed that the government had turned down Harry's offer to pay for police protection.

The latest

There have already been several preliminary rulings in this case. The latest came on Friday.

The Associated Press reports:

A judge at the High Court in London ruled that Associated Newspapers Ltd. can continue to argue that the story reflected an “honest opinion” about the facts of the case and therefore was not libelous. The publisher, which is the defendant in the case, has a “real prospect” of showing that public statements issued on Harry’s behalf were misleading, the judge wrote in his decision.

The outlet then quotes the judge - Justice Matthew Nicklin - as writing, "I anticipate that, at trial, the defendant may well submit that this was a masterclass in the art of ‘spinning.' And, the defendant argues, it was successful in misleading and/or confusing the public."

Now, a hearing is scheduled to take place on Tuesday to discuss the consequences of Nicklin's ruling.

The case is currently expected to go to trial in 2024.

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