The entire phone-hacking saga became public in 2006.Photo: Martin Meissner/AP

Prince William’s secret legal battle revealed amid Prince Harry’s court case

The High Court was informed on Tuesday that The Prince of Wales and The Sun’s publisher had allegedly reached a settlement.

The publisher of the newspaper and the now-defunct News Of The World, News Group Newspapers (NGN), recently reached a settlement over allegations of phone hacking.

The news comes as a three-day hearing in London involving Hugh Grant and William’s brother, the Duke of Sussex, has begun.

 

Prince Harry and Meghan attended the Lakers game in Los Angeles on Monday night
Photo: Getty Images

 

The hearing was not attended by Prince Harry, who was seen on Monday night watching a Lakers game with wife Meghan.

The Duke is suing NGN for allegedly gathering illegal information at its titles.

The publisher claims that both claims have been brought too late and is requesting that Mr. Justice Fancourt dismiss them both.

But in response to the NGN’s request for a strikeout, Harry’s attorneys claimed that it is an effort to conceal a “secret agreement” between the royal family as a whole and NGN, which the Duke was made aware of in 2012.

Harry’s attorney, David Sherborne, claimed in court documents that the late Queen Elizabeth II participated in “discussions and authorisation” of the agreement, which stated that members of the royal family would delay bringing claims against NGN until the hacking lawsuit was resolved.

 

William has allegedly settled a phone hacking claim with NGN
Photo: Getty Images

 

In written arguments, Mr. Sherborne claimed that the agreement “meant that the claimant could not at that time bring a claim against NGN for phone hacking.”

William “recently settled his claim against NGN behind the scenes,” the barrister claimed.

The Prince of Wales’s Kensington Palace declined to respond to a request for comment.

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Harry stated in a witness statement prepared for the hearing on Tuesday that he and his brother had also been informed that ‘neither of us could file a claim against NGN for phone hacking at the time by either the institution’s solicitor or another member of the institution’.

The justification for this was a covert agreement between the institution and senior NGN executives, according to which members of the royal family would only bring phone hacking claims after the Mobile Telephone Voicemail Interception Litigation was resolved, at which point the claims would be either admitted or settled with an apology.

This was done in order to prevent a member of the royal family from having to testify in court and recount the specifics of the confidential and highly sensitive voicemails that Clive Goodman had listened to.

 

Prince Harry appeared at the High Court last month
Photo: Getty Images

 

The institution was extremely concerned about this and wanted to do everything in its power to avoid the same kind of reputational damage that it had endured in 1993 as a result of The Sun and another tabloid illegally obtaining and publishing details of an intimate telephone conversation between my father and stepmother in 1989, when he was still married to my mother.

“This agreement, including the promises from NGN for delayed resolution, was, obviously, a major factor as to why no claim was brought by me at that time.”

If their claims move forward to trial, which is scheduled to be heard in January of the following year, the judge will decide.

The lawsuit against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), publisher of The Mail and Mail On Sunday, is one of many being brought by the Duke, who personally appeared before the High Court last month for a preliminary hearing.

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A trial over allegations of publishing illegal information against tabloid publisher Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), scheduled to start next month, is another instance where he is anticipated to testify. Harry is scheduled to appear in court in June.

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