Prince Harry makes surprise showing at UK privacy case

Britain's Prince Harry arrives at the gardens at Buckingham Palace in London, UK. PHOTO | AP

London. Britain's Prince Harry on Monday made an unexpected appearance at London's high court when he arrived for a hearing in his claim against a newspaper publisher over allegations of unlawful information gathering.

The publisher of the Daily Mail, Associated Newspapers, is bidding to end the claims brought by high-profile figures, including Harry and the singer Elton John, over alleged unlawful activity at its titles.

Harry, who has lived in California since 2020 after quitting royal duties, was pictured arriving at the court in central London.

Others taking part in the legal action are actresses Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost, John's husband David Furnish, and Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993.

The group launched the legal action last year after becoming aware of "compelling and highly distressing evidence that they have been the victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy" by Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), according to a statement by law firm Hamlins released in October 2022.

Hamlins alleges that the unlawful acts included hiring private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside cars and homes and the recording of private phone conversations.

Associated Newspapers has described the allegations as "preposterous smears" and a "pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone-hacking scandal".

Britain's phone hacking scandal, which first blew up in 2006, saw journalists at the News of the World hack into the voicemails of royals, celebrities and murder victims.

It triggered the closure of the mass-selling Sunday tabloid, a mammoth police investigation, a judge-led inquiry and criminal charges that gripped Britain for the next few years.

An ANL spokesperson also said the allegations were "unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims, based on no credible evidence".

A four-day preliminary hearing at the high court is being held from Monday and is set to include an attempt by ANL to have the claims dismissed without a trial.