Prince Harry returns to court in tabloid phone hacking case
LONDON (AP) -- Prince Harry returned to a London court Tuesday for a second day of hearings to see if the phone hacking lawsuit he brought with Elton John and other celebrities can withstand a challenge from the publisher of The Daily Mail.
The case is one of several brought by the Duke of Sussex in his battle with the press and alleges the publisher hired private investigators to illegally bug homes and cars and to record phone conversations.
Associated Newspapers Ltd. denies the allegations and is seeking to throw out the case, arguing that the claims are too old and rely on information they turned over in confidentiality for a 2012 probe into media law breaking.
Actresses Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost, and John's husband, David Furnish, are also parties to the case.
The lawsuit alleges Associated Newspapers, which publishes The Daily Mail and The Mail On Sunday, commissioned the "breaking and entry into private property," and engaged in other unlawful acts that invaded the privacy of the famous plaintiffs.
Attorney David Sherborne, who represents the prince and others, said the intrusions were "habitual and widespread" and later "concealed or covered up."
Articles were falsely attributed to "friends," a family source, palace sources, royal insider, or similar unnamed individuals to throw subjects "off the scent" of the true origin, Sherborne said.
Among the allegations in court papers were that Associated Newspapers unlawfully obtained the birth certificate of John and Furnish's child before they saw the document and illegally gleaned information on Harry's previous relationship with Chelsy Davy, a jewelry designer from Zimbabwe.
The publisher is also alleged to have hired a private investigator to hack Hurley's phone, stuck a mini-microphone on a window outside her home and bugged ex-boyfriend Hugh Grant's car to gather financial information, travel plans and medical information during her pregnancy.
The case is to some extent a replay of a British phone-hacking scandal that was front page news a decade ago and eventually brought down another tabloid and ended with the conviction of the former spokesperson for then-Prime Minister David Cameron.
The allegations date primarily from 1993 to 2011 but also stretch beyond 2018, Sherborne said.
Associated Newspapers claims the information about the scandal was so widely known the subjects could have sued years ago.
"It would be surprising indeed for any reasonably informed member of the public, let alone a figure in the public eye, to have been unaware of these matters," attorney Adrian Beltrami said in writing.