London (AFP) – Prince Harry has won the first stage of a defamation lawsuit against the publisher of the British Mail on Sunday newspaper, after a judge ruled on Friday that parts of an article about his fight to protect police in the UK were defamatory.
Supreme Court Justice Matthew Nicklin has yet to consider questions such as whether the story is accurate or in the public interest, and what defenses the publication will be able to raise in the next stage of the process.
The lawsuit revolves around the newspaper’s coverage of a separate Supreme Court suit brought by Harry in an attempt to force the authorities to provide police protection for the prince and his family when they are in the UK. The government withdrew protection from the family for 24 hours a day when Harry and his wife Meghan quit their royal duties on the front lines and moved to California.
On February 20, 2022, the Mail on Sunday reported that Harry had sought a “long-range secret order” to keep details of his work against the government secret. The newspaper said that despite public statements by his advisers that the prince was always willing to pay for police protection, this offer was not made in his initial attempt to overturn the government’s decision.
Harry claims The Mail on Sunday slandered him when he implied that he had lied in his initial public statements about the lawsuit against the government and that he had “lightly” tried to mislead the public by allowing his representatives to make “false and misleading statements” about his willingness to pay for police protection.
Nicklin ruled that the “normal or ordinary meaning” of the article was defamatory, but stressed that the decision did not apply to other issues in the case.
“This is the first stage in the defamation suit,” the judge wrote in his decision. The next step is for the defendant to present his defense of the lawsuit. It will be a matter of determining later in the procedure whether or not the lawsuit thrives and, if so, on what grounds.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.