Prince Harry and Elton John have appeared at the High Court in London for a hearing against the publisher of the Daily Mail over alleged phone-tapping and other breaches of privacy.
The Duke of Sussex has brought a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers alongside other famous figures, including actresses Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost.
Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, is trying to end the high court claims brought over alleged unlawful activity at its titles.
Seven claimants launched the action last year but legal restrictions requested by the newspaper group mean specific details of their allegations have so far not been made public.
Lawyers for the seven told the court that the Daily Mail commissioned the breaking and entry into private property, illegally intercepted voicemail messages and obtained medical records.
“The claimants each claim that in different ways they were the victim of numerous unlawful acts carried out by the defendant, or by those acting on the instructions of its newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Mail On Sunday,” lawyer David Sherborne said in written submissions.
The alleged unlawful activities featured “illegally intercepting voicemail messages, listening into live landline calls, obtaining private information, such as itemised phone bills or medical records, by deception”, Mr Sherborne said.
Other accusations included “using private investigators to commit these unlawful information gathering acts on their behalf and even commissioning the breaking and entry into private property”, he said.
The publisher hit back at the allegations, describing them at the time as “preposterous smears” and a “pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone-hacking scandal”.
Lawyers for Associated Newspapers 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, which it strongly denies.
The publisher’s lawyers also argue that the claims fall outside a time limit for legal action.
A representative for Associated said the allegations were “unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims, based on no credible evidence”.
Prince Harry is also separately suing the Mail on Sunday for libel over an article about his security arrangements, and last year won damages from the same paper after another defamation claim.
His wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, won a privacy case against the publisher in 2021 for printing a letter she had written to her estranged father.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry is expected to appear in court in May to give evidence in a libel trial against the Daily Mirror over accusations of phone-hacking.
It is believed to be the first time he has been back in the UK since Queen Elizabeth’s funeral in September.
His surprise return comes about three months after he laid bare his troubled relationship with his father King Charles III and brother Prince William in his controversial autobiography Spare.
The hearing is scheduled to finish on Thursday.
Updated: March 27, 2023, 7:51 PM