Prince Harry fails in attempt to name Rupert Murdoch in phone hacking case | Prince Harry

Prince Harry has failed in his legal bid to name Rupert Murdoch over allegations of extensive cover-up of wrongdoing at Murdoch’s newspapers.

The Duke of Sussex is embroiled in a legal battle with News Group Newspapers (NGN), the publisher of the Sun, which he has accused of phone hacking, illegal information gathering, wiretapping and covering up widespread irregularities.

The case brought by Harry and other high-profile people, including Labor colleague Doreen Lawrence, will go to trial in January 2025. In March, Harry’s lawyers attempted to update parts of his case after more information was published.

Judge Fancourt ruled that some of the requested amendments could be made, including several relating to allegations that senior NGN executives lied in the Leveson investigation and concealed and destroyed evidence. Harry was allowed to make some changes to his individual case, but he was unable to bring forward new allegations from 1994, 1995 and 2016 or new allegations of phone hacking.

Fancourt ruled that a number of “high” claims submitted by the plaintiffs could not be heard at the January trial, and that the individuals should pay one-third of NGN’s costs.

At the March hearing, Harry and other plaintiffs sought to place blame squarely on Murdoch, arguing that the 93-year-old billionaire had “turned a blind eye” to an extensive cover-up of wrongdoing at his newspapers and had overseen a “culture of impunity” in NGN, which was also the publisher of the now defunct News of the World.

At a hearing at London’s High Court on Tuesday, Fancourt ruled that individual allegations against Murdoch and some other senior executives should not be examined at trial, as “there have already been allegations against Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch, who are his lieutenants.” trustworthy.”

Fancourt said: “As tempting as it undoubtedly is for the plaintiffs’ team to try to frame the man at the top, doing so will add nothing to the conclusion that Ms. Brooks and Mr. James Murdoch or other senior executives knew and They were involved. if that is proven to be the case.”

He said the plaintiffs’ attorneys wanted to “shoot ‘trophy’ targets,” but that should not “become an end in itself,” adding: “The trial is not an investigation.”

Judgment on the amendments, he said: “The plaintiffs have sought to introduce a large amount of new allegations and material, much of which is likely to be highly contentious, and there is no prospect of the planned trial time being in line with the amendments.” these accusations. .”

The wider group of around 40 other claimants were also denied permission to extend the period of alleged wrongdoing from 1994 to 2016; add a private investigators annex; They include allegations that the Sun editor did not “deal honestly” with the police and the CPS when he was under investigation in the wake of the phone hacking scandal; or include new allegations that the publisher targeted politicians for political and commercial gain.

Harry was given permission to bring charges against several additional journalists and private investigators and to bring charges of wiretapping and landline voicemails.

NGN has resolved more than 1,300 complaints since The Guardian exposed the phone hacking scandal that led to the closure of the News of the World in 2011, but has consistently denied that illegal information was collected at the Sun.

An NGN spokesperson said Wednesday’s ruling had “completely vindicated” its position. His attorneys have previously accused some of the plaintiffs of using the case as a vehicle to attack the press and said some of the proposed changes to the claim appeared “designed to grab headlines rather than advance individual claims.” .

In a statement, NGN said: “Plaintiffs’ attorneys work with convicted phone hackers and employ anti-press activists and campaigners who seek to use the claims to make accusations within the protection of the principles of open justice.”

The plaintiffs said they were satisfied that the court had “granted them permission to amend their case in relation to a number of important issues that NGN vigorously opposes”, including “the lies told by its senior executives about the Leveson investigation (and) the concealment of NGN’s deliberations.” and destruction of evidence with the knowledge of his most senior executives, including Rupert Murdoch’s own ‘trusted lieutenants’.”