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Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group

by Editorial Team
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AFP

Britain’s Prince Harry and singer Elton John are among six public figures suing the publisher of the Daily Mail over alleged unlawful information-gathering at its titles.

The others taking part in the legal action are actresses Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost and Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murder victim Stephen Lawrence, the domestic PA news agency said in a report.

The six had “become aware of compelling and highly distressing evidence that they have been the victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy” by Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), a statement by law firm Hamlins acting for the group said.

ANL, also the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, said on Thursday it “utterly and unambiguously” rejected the allegations.

Lawrence, whose son was killed in a racially-motivated attack in south London in 1993, had also lodged a claim against Rupert Murdoch-owned News Group Newspapers, publisher of various titles including The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World.

The details of that claim are not known, but it is understood also to relate to misuse of private information.

The statement about the legal action against ANL released by Hamlins claimed that the unlawful acts alleged to have taken place included the hiring of private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside cars and homes and the recording of private phone conversations.

It also alleged that payments were made to police “with corrupt links to private investigators” for sensitive information, that medical information was “obtained by deception” and that bank accounts and financial information was accessed “through illicit means and manipulation”.

Hamlins is representing Harry and Frost, while the other claimants are represented by law firm Gunnercooke.

There have been a number of damages claims over unlawful activity at newspapers in the wake of Britain’s phone-hacking scandal.

That resulted in the closure of the Murdoch-owned News of the World.

While most of those claims have now been settled, this is the first claim to be brought against ANL.

News Group Newspapers (NGN) settled claims relating to the News Of The World, while never admitting any liability over claims made in relation to The Sun.

Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) has settled claims relating to its titles, including The People and The Sunday Mirror.

Both publishers are currently facing further claims, and have recently made attempts to bring the long-running litigation to an end.

A spokesman for Associated Newspapers said it “utterly and unambiguously” refuted “these preposterous smears which appear to be nothing more than a pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone hacking scandal concerning articles up to 30 years old.

“These unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims, based on no credible evidence, appear to be simply a fishing expedition by claimants and their lawyers, some of whom have already pursued cases elsewhere.”

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