Prince Harry makes surprise appearance at court battle against Daily Mail
Elton John and the mother of a murder victim also among those suing paper for privacy breaches
Prince Harry and singer Elton John made a surprise appearance at London's High Court on Monday as they and five others began a lawsuit against the publisher of the Daily Mail paper over years of alleged phone-tapping and privacy breaches.
Harry, the younger son of King Charles III, has brought a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers, as have the singer and his Canadian husband and filmmaker, David Furnish, and actors Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost.
The prince, who flew in from his California home, sat just feet away from a large group of reporters.
John and Furnish arrived during a break for lunch, while Frost was also in court on Monday. None of the claimants are expected to speak during the hearing.
They allege they were victims of "numerous unlawful acts" carried out by Associated Newspaper titles the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, their lawyers said in extracts of submissions made to the court.
These included hacking mobile phone messages, bugging calls, getting private information such as medical records by deception or "blagging," using private investigators to unlawfully obtain information, and "even commissioning the breaking and entry into private property," according to the extracts.
The alleged activity ran from 1993 to 2011, "even continuing beyond until 2018," the lawyers said.
Publisher strongly denies accusations
Associated Newspapers has said it "utterly and unambiguously" denies the allegations. It is seeking to have the case thrown out.
In court submissions, it said the claims were based on inference rather than evidence, and that the claimants had provided little or no evidence of unlawful information gathering by its journalists.
The claimants argue the evidence is compelling and should be determined at a trial.
Another claimant in the case is Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a 1993 racist attack. She was later made a baroness for her campaigning work.
The Mail had championed bringing her son's killers to justice and said the allegations involving her were "appalling and utterly groundless smears."
In a statement last October, a spokesman for Associated Newspapers said the publisher had "the greatest respect and admiration" for Lawrence and was saddened she had been persuaded to join the action by "whoever is cynically and unscrupulously orchestrating these claims."
Harry hugged Lawrence at the end of the day's hearing and chatted to her and Furnish, and gave a thumbs up to crowds outside as he left court.
Harry, Meghan take on press outlets
Prince Harry is already involved in a libel case against the Mail on Sunday, over an article about his security arrangements, which the paper is also contesting.
Last year, Harry won damages from the same paper after another defamation claim. His wife, Meghan, also won a privacy case against the publisher in 2021 for printing a letter she had written to her estranged father.
Meanwhile, Harry is expected to appear in court in May to give evidence in a libel trial against the Daily Mirror newspaper over accusations of phone-hacking, which that paper is also contesting.
Outrage over reporters hacking voicemail messages led to the closure of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid in 2011, the jailing of its former editor and a lengthy public inquiry into press standards.
Media intrusion was one of the reasons Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, cited for stepping back from royal duties and moving to California to forge new lives and careers.
They attacked the press in their recent six-part Netflix documentary series and in Harry's memoir Spare, while accusing other royals of collaborating with newspapers over some false stories.
The fallout from those claims, about which Buckingham Palace has not commented, goes on. Harry is not expected to see his brother, William, while he is in London as the heir to the throne is away for school holidays.
Harry's attendance at his father's coronation in May is yet to be confirmed.