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Prince Harry loses bid to have Murdoch claims included in trial

LONDON (AFP) – Prince Harry and other high-profile figures yesterday failed in a bid to have direct claims against Rupert Murdoch included in their unlawful information-gathering case against his United Kingdom (UK) publishing arm.

Harry is one dozens of claimants taking News Group Newspapers (NGN) to court over allegations they were repeatedly targeted by journalists and private investigators working for The Sun tabloid.

High Court judge Timothy Fancourt ruled last month that the lawsuit against Murdoch’s British tabloid publisher can proceed to a potential trial next year.

But yesterday he rejected requests for new allegations that 93-year-old Murdoch had direct knowledge of unlawful practices to be included in the case.

Fancourt said he had “refused permission for new allegations against Rupert Murdoch personally and some other senior executives, on the basis that these add nothing to the allegations already made against other senior executives at NGN and its parent companies”.

Other claimants in the case include filmmaker Guy Ritchie, several former senior politicians and the campaigner Doreen Lawrence, whose son Stephen was murdered in a racist attack in London in 1993.

Actor Hugh Grant last month settled his claim against NGN, saying he wanted to avoid a potential legal bill of millions of pounds.

NGN, which denies accusations of illegal activity, said the claim had been settled “without admission of liability” and that it was “in both parties’ financial interests not to progress to a costly trial”.

The case is one of several Harry has brought against UK newspaper publishers.

Harry, the younger son of King Charles III, this year settled a long-running lawsuit against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) after alleging its journalists were linked to deceptive and unlawful methods, including phone hacking.

The prince, who quit the royal frontline and moved to the United States in 2020, is also bringing legal action against Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.