Judge Denies Sun Publisher’s Request to Postpone Prince Harry Phone-Hacking Case

Judge Denies Sun Publisher's Request to Postpone Prince Harry Phone-Hacking Case
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London (Parliament News) – Prince Harry secures victory as judge rejects Sun publisher’s request to delay phone-hacking case trial, ruling postponement “unsatisfactory” amid ongoing legal battle.

Prince Harry has triumphed in the latest episode of his long-running legal fight with the publisher of the Sun after a high court judge refused an application to postpone the trial. News Group Newspapers had laid to push back the trial for alleged illegal information gathering – which is scheduled for January next year – to allow the court to investigate whether claims of unlawful news pack by Harry and 41 others were brought too late.

According to the Guardian, On Friday, Mr Justice Fancourt conveyed there was “plainly considerable risk” that concerning the timings of the claims would be expensive and push the full trial back by another two years, which was “unsatisfactory”.

What are the allegations against News Group Newspapers?

Harry and others, including the Labour peer Doreen Lawrence, have blamed the Murdoch-owned tabloid The Sun and the now defunct News of the World for illegal news gathering, including using secret investigators, blagging intimate information, burglary, and thwarting phone calls and voicemails, from the mid-1990s until 2016.

At a hearing on Wednesday, attorneys for NGN stated the court should first look at whether the claimants could have understood they had a claim earlier, and could thus be ruled out of proceedings.

Claims usually have to be obtained within six years. The NGN lawyers claimed it was the “most efficient” way of dealing with cases and could “promote” settlements. Lawyers for the claimants argued it would delay proceedings and would be “highly disruptive and prejudicial”.

What prompted the judge to reject it?

Disregarding the application, Fancourt expressed it “was not just and convenient … to vacate all 42 claimants’ trials in January 2025 to hear a trial of only one issue instead”.

Why did NGN seek to delay proceedings?

NGN’s lawyers stated it would pay the costs of making the request. News UK, the Sun’s parent company, paid £51.6m in costs connected to the scandal in 2023, and £128.3m in 2022. News UK has settled more than 1,500 phone-hacking assertions since the Guardian revealed the scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World in 2011. It has consistently denied that unlawful information-gathering took place at the Sun.

The route to trial in Harry’s case against NGN has been long and costly. On Wednesday the actor Hugh Grant dropped out of the case, stating he had accepted an “enormous” settlement from the Sun.

The actor had charged the Sun with phone hacking, unlawful information gathering, landline tapping, intruding on his phone and burgling his flat and office. Grant stated he had been forced to settle or face a lawful bill of £10m because strict rules about expenses in civil litigation meant that if he had not settled and had succeeded in the case, his legal costs could have far outstripped any impairments awarded to him.

How does this affect the ongoing legal battle?

On Wednesday a representative for NGN said it had apologised unreservedly to phone-hacking targets in 2011 and had paid financial impairments“to those with proper claims” against the News of the World, adding that the Sun did not carry liability for continuing claims against it.

Last month Harry’s lawyers aimed to implicate Rupert Murdoch directly in the trial, claiming that he had “turned a blind eye” to an expansive cover-up of wrongdoing at his newspapers and had overseen a “culture of impunity”.

In a motion that the Sun’s publishers criticised as an endeavour to use civil proceedings as a “substitute for a public inquiry”, the duke’s barrister David Sherborne aimed to amend the privacy claim to make detailed allegations about the “destruction and hiding” of evidence, including by Will Lewis, the newly designated publisher of the Washington Post, possessed by Jeff Bezos. The judge has yet to rule on whether the suit can be amended.

Daniele Naddei

Daniele Naddei is a journalist at Parliament News covering European affairs, was born in Naples on April 8, 1991. He also serves as the Director of the CentroSud24 newspaper. During the period from 2010 to 2013, Naddei completed an internship at the esteemed local radio station Radio Club 91. Subsequently, he became the author of a weekly magazine published by the Italian Volleyball Federation of Campania (FIPAV Campania), which led to his registration in the professional order of Journalists of Campania in early 2014, listed under publicists. From 2013 to 2018, he worked as a freelance photojournalist and cameraman for external services for Rai and various local entities, including TeleCapri, CapriEvent, and TLA. Additionally, between 2014 and 2017, Naddei collaborated full-time with various newspapers in Campania, both in print and online. During this period, he also resumed his role as Editor-in-Chief at Radio Club 91.
Naddei is actively involved as a press officer for several companies and is responsible for editing cultural and social events in the city through his association with the Medea Fattoria Sociale. This experience continued until 2021. Throughout these years, he hosted or collaborated on football sports programs for various local broadcasters, including TLA, TvLuna, TeleCapri, Radio Stonata, Radio Amore, and Radio Antenna Uno.
From 2016 to 2018, Naddei was employed as an editor at newspapers of national interest within the Il24.it circuit, including Internazionale24, Salute24, and OggiScuola. Since 2019, Naddei has been one of the creators of the Rabona television program "Calcio è Passione," which has been broadcast on TeleCapri Sport since 2023.