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Prince Harry cleared to use key evidence in phone hacking case against Daily Mail publisher

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Prince Harry scored a tactical victory in his battles with the British tabloids on Friday (March 1), when government ministers said he could use confidential documents showing payments made by the publisher of the Daily Mail to private investigators, who allegedly spied on him and several celebrities.

The Duke of Sussex, Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley and others claim that Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL) hacked into their phones or used other illegal means, such as wiretapping and other means of electronic surveillance, to spy on them.

Judge Matthew Nicklin in November rejected the newspapers’ attempt to dismiss the case, but his ruling also dealt a blow to Harry and others.

Records showing payments to private investigators that were disclosed to Harry’s legal team following a government investigation into phone hacking could only be used with the newspapers’ permission or by order of the judge who oversaw the investigation from 2011 to 2012 or government ministers who had ordered the investigation, Nicklin said.

Associated Newspapers, which strongly denies the allegations and calls them absurd, has refused to hand over the documents and opposed the government making them public.

In a joint statement Friday from the interior and culture secretaries the departments which ordered the Leveson inquiry into press standards said the documents could be used in the trial.

“In our opinion, the public interest in promoting a fair, expeditious and economical resolution of the proceedings outweighs the competing public interests,” the statement said.

Associated Newspapers said it would not comment on the decision.

The development comes as Harry’s string of litigation comes to an end with trials planned in the case against ANL and another case alongside Hugh Grant which makes similar allegations against the publisher of The Sun.

Harry won a big victory in December after a judge ruled that phone hacking of Mirror Group newspapers was “widespread and habitual”. After winning his case in court, he recently settled the remaining allegations for all of his legal fees. The total amount was not announced but he was to receive an interim payment of 400,000 pounds (S$681,000).

Harry, 39, the youngest son of King Charles III, broke family tradition by going to court in his crusade against the press and was the first member of the royal family in more than a century to take the stand witnesses when he testified in the Mirror trial.

His luck, so far, in the hacking cases has proven more successful than three cases linked to the government’s decision to strip him of his state-funded protection in the UK after he left his work as a member of the royal family and moved to the United States. .

A judge ruled Wednesday that the government did not act irrationally or treat people unfairly when it decided to provide security on a case-by-case basis. Harry vowed to appeal.

He recently withdrew his libel suit against the Daily Mail over an article claiming he tried to hide his efforts to continue receiving government-funded security. He dropped the case after a judge ruled he was more likely to lose at trial because the publisher could demonstrate that statements made on his behalf were misleading and that the February 2022 article reflected a ” honest opinion” and was not defamatory.

He could face hefty legal bills in cases he lost or abandoned.

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