The initial hearing in a lawsuit filed by Prince Harry, musician Elton John, and other prominent figures against the publisher of the Daily Mail for alleged phone-tapping and privacy breaches is scheduled for Monday.
The seven claimants, which include actresses Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost, as well as Elton John's husband and filmmaker David Furnish, initiated the legal action last year. However, due to legal restrictions requested by the newspaper group, specific details of the allegations have not been disclosed.
A statement released in October by lawyers representing Frost and Harry, King Charles' younger son, claimed that the case against Associated Newspapers involved tapping phone calls, bugging cars and homes, and paying police for sensitive information.
Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, and Mail Online, has "utterly and unambiguously" denied the allegations. The publisher is seeking to have the case dismissed during this week's four-day hearing at London's High Court.
Prince Harry is currently suing the Mail on Sunday for libel over an article about his security arrangements and has previously won damages from the same paper in another defamation case. In 2021, his wife Meghan also won a privacy case against the publisher for printing a letter she had written to her estranged father. Harry is expected to testify in a libel trial against the Daily Mirror newspaper in May over phone-hacking allegations.
Media intrusion was cited as one of the reasons Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, stepped back from royal duties and relocated to California to pursue new lives and careers. Their recent six-part Netflix documentary series and Harry's memoir "Spare" heavily criticized the press.
Doreen Lawrence, mother of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a 1993 racist attack, is perhaps the most notable claimant in the case. She later became a baroness for her campaigning work. The Mail had advocated for her son's killers to be brought to justice and labeled the allegations involving her as "appalling and utterly groundless smears."
In an October statement, a spokesperson for Associated Newspapers expressed the publisher's "greatest respect and admiration" for Lawrence and lamented that she had been persuaded to join the legal action by "whoever is cynically and unscrupulously orchestrating these claims."