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‘Prince Harry’s call bugged, Princess Diana’s messages accessed by tabloid papers’, Lawyers allege

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NEW DELHI: Prince Harry‘s legal representatives informed London’s high court on Thursday that Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid papers allegedly intercepted landline calls made by the royal and accessed messages from the pager of his late mother Princess Diana.
The allegations came to light as part of a lawsuit filed by Harry and more than 40 others against News Group Newspapers (NGN) over alleged unlawful activities conducted by journalists and private investigators associated with its tabloids, the Sun and the now-defunct News of the World, in the mid-1990s until 2016.
Last July, Judge Timothy Fancourt permitted Harry to proceed with claims of unlawful information collection to trial. However, allegations of mobile phone hacking dating back decades were dismissed due to being filed beyond the legal timeframe.
During the recent high court hearing, Harry’s legal team sought to amend the lawsuit in response to the previous ruling and to introduce new allegations. These include claims that the Sun commissioned private investigators to target Harry’s then-girlfriend, now wife, Meghan, in 2016, along with assertions of widespread interception of Harry’s calls.
According to court documents, Harry’s claim encompasses interceptions of landline calls, cordless phone calls, analogue mobile calls, and landline voicemails, distinct from the previously dismissed phone hacking claims.
NGN has opposed the addition of what they termed a “huge number of new allegations” on various grounds, including tardiness, lack of evidence, and overlap with previously adjudicated claims.
In 2011, NGN issued an apology for extensive phone hacking carried out by journalists at the News of the World, a publication subsequently shuttered by Murdoch amidst public outcry. NGN has settled over 1,300 claims related to the scandal but has consistently denied allegations of wrongdoing.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, lawyers for Harry and other claimants asserted that Murdoch and senior executives were complicit in covering up systemic misconduct, including providing false testimony to courts, parliament, and a public inquiry.
NGN contends that some claimants are exploiting the lawsuits, slated for trial in January next year, to undermine the tabloid press. They label allegations against current and former staff as “a scurrilous and cynical attack on their integrity.”
Since giving up his royal duties in 2020 to relocate to California, Harry has intensified his efforts to challenge the British press, alleging persistent intrusion into his private life since childhood, coupled with the dissemination of falsehoods about him and his associates.
In December, Harry emerged victorious in a lawsuit against Mirror Group Newspaper over allegations of phone hacking and illicit activities, with the court affirming awareness of the wrongdoing among senior figures.
(With agency inputs)

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