Prince William settled a phone-hacking claim against Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper group in 2020 for a “very large sum”, lawyers for Prince Harry have said in court documents.
News of the settlement was revealed on Tuesday as a three-day hearing in London involving William’s brother, the Duke of Sussex, and actor Hugh Grant got under way.
Harry is suing News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World, over alleged unlawful information gathering at its titles.
NGN is asking Mr Justice Fancourt to throw out both claims, arguing they have been brought too late.
But, responding to the publisher’s strike out application, Harry’s lawyers said it is an attempt to go behind a “secret agreement” between the royal family as an institution and NGN, which the duke was informed of in 2012.
In documents before the court, David Sherborne, representing Harry, said the late Queen was involved in “discussions and authorisation” of the agreement, which was that members of the royal family would not pursue claims against NGN until after the conclusion of the litigation over hacking.
Mr Sherborne said in written arguments that the agreement “meant that the claimant could not bring a claim against NGN for phone hacking at that time”.
He added: “It was agreed directly between these parties, as opposed to their lawyers… that at the conclusion of the Mobile Telephone Voicemail Interception Litigation (MTVIL) News would admit or settle such a claim with an apology.
“In 2017, the claimant and the institution began to push for the outstanding claim to be resolved.
“However, News filibustered in relation to this until, in 2019, the claimant had enough and issued his claim.”
Mr Sherborne said William has “recently settled his claim against NGN behind the scenes”.
The hearing is expected to last three days and the judge will determine whether their claims will progress to a trial, which is due to be heard in January next year.
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The claim is one of a number of legal actions currently being brought by the duke, who appeared in person at the High Court last month for a preliminary hearing against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), publisher of The Mail and Mail On Sunday.
He is also expected to give evidence at a trial over allegations of unlawful information against tabloid publisher Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), due to begin next month, with Harry due to appear in court in June.