The Duke of Sussex, Sir Elton John and Baroness Doreen Lawrence can continue their unlawful information-gathering claims against the publisher of the Daily Mail, after it lost a bid to have the cases thrown out at the high court.
The trio are among a group of high-profile individuals – including David Furnish, Sadie Frost, Liz Hurley and Sir Simon Hughes – who brought legal action against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL).
They have accused the publisher of allegedly carrying out or commissioning unlawful activities such as hiring private investigators to place listening devices inside cars, “blagging” private records and accessing and recording private phone conversations.
At a hearing in March, ANL, which denies the allegations, asked a judge to rule in its favour without a trial, arguing the legal challenges against it were brought “far too late”.
In a ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Nicklin said ANL had “not been able to deliver a ‘knockout blow’ to the claims of any of these claimants”.
Harry made a surprise appearance at the Royal Courts of Justice in London during the four-day preliminary hearing earlier this year, with Sir Elton and Lady Lawrence also appearing at the London court during proceedings.
Adrian Beltrami KC, for ANL, said the individuals could have used “reasonable diligence” to discover if they had a potential claim before October 2016. The lawyer said the legal action against the publisher had “no real prospects of succeeding” and was barred under a legal period of limitation.
However, lawyers for those bringing the claims said they were “thrown off the scent” and not aware of being targeted, having believed “categorical denials” from ANL over any involvement in unlawful activity.
David Sherborne, representing Harry and others, said ANL’s bid to have the claims ended was as “ambitious as it is unattractive” and that members of the group each had a “compelling case”.