Knight Court

However, due to the statute of limitations, the Duke of Sussex’s phone hacking allegations will be omitted from the lawsuit

A British judge ruled Thursday that Prince Harry’s snooping lawsuit against the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Group Newspapers can go to trial, albeit without one of its most damning allegations.

Like his ongoing lawsuit against the Mirror Group’s tabloids — for which Prince Harry testified against in June — the Duke of Sussex had also sued The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World, accusing the newspapers of hacking his phone over a decade ago.

In his ruling Thursday, Justice Timothy Fancourt said that Harry’s lawsuit can proceed to trial, but without the phone hacking charge, since that happened outside the law’s six-year statute of limitations; Fancourt added that Harry was aware of the phone hacking allegations during the period within the statute.

“I am satisfied that there is no reasonable prospect of the duke proving at trial that he did not know and could not with reasonable diligence have discovered facts that would show that he had a worthwhile claim for voicemail interception in relation to each of the News of the World and The Sun,” Fancourt wrote in his judgment.

“He already knew that in relation to the News Of The World, and he could easily have found out by making basic inquiries that he was likely to have a similar claim in relation to articles published by The Sun.”

Harry’s legal team had argued that Buckingham Palace struck a “secret agreement” with NGN to prevent the Duke of Sussex from pursuing legal action against the media group, thus making the charges ultimately fall outside the statute of limitations. Fancourt rejected that theory. (When Prince Harry testified against the Mirror Group in June, he became the first royal in a century to take the stand.)


With the phone hacking thrown out, the crux of Prince Harry’s case against NGN — slated to begin January 2024 — will be on allegations of unlawful information gathering, like the tabloids’ employment of private eyes to specifically unearth dirt on Harry; Fancourt issued a similar ruling in Hugh Grant’s lawsuit against the British media, with the phone hacking charges dismissed from that case.

An NGN spokesperson called the ruling a “significant victory” that “substantially reduces the scope” of Harry’s lawsuit, the Associated Press reports. In addition to his legal action against Mirror Group and News Group, Prince Harry also has an outstanding lawsuit claiming similar allegations against the Daily Mail.