Prince Harry Returns to London Court for Final Day of Phone Hacking Hearing
The High Court judge is not expected to make a decision on whether the case should proceed to trial for a few weeks
Prince Harry is back in court for the final day of the hearing that will determine whether his lawsuit against Associated Newspapers goes to trial.
The Duke of Sussex, 38, arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Thursday and gave a small wave as he made his way in. Harry's attorney David Sherborne and fellow claimant David Furnish also attended the hearing.
Prince Harry, Furnish, his husband Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley and more are suing Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), publisher of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, for illegal information gathering. The four-day hearing began Monday to consider legal arguments from both sides, as ANL argues that the case should be thrown out. It will conclude with a judge's ruling on whether the case should go to trial.
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Reuters reports that Justice Matthew Nicklin, who is presiding over the case, is not expected to make a decision for a few weeks.
According to the outlet, in conversation with Sherborne, Nicklin said that if the case did advance, it would be a "massive trial" lasting a "substantial period of time."
The Duke of Sussex made a surprise appearance at court on Monday, his first time in the U.K. since the funeral of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth in September. PEOPLE understands that Harry traveled to London to show his support for the case and informed King Charles and Prince William that he would be in the U.K. and attending the proceedings.
However, it's unlikely that the father and sons got together. King Charles, 74, is currently abroad in Germany with Queen Camilla for the first overseas visit of the new reign, while Prince William, 40, spends time with wife Kate Middleton and their three children — Prince George, 9, Princess Charlotte, 7, and Prince Louis, 4 — who are on school break.
Harry stepped out at High Court again Tuesday but skipped the proceedings Wednesday. In witness statements released this week, he alleged that the palace "without a doubt" withheld information from him about the phone hacking and that he never thought anyone "would be so stupid as to hack my own phone" given the implications and consequences of such an unlawful act.
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"Before this point, whenever I considered Associated, I never thought about this. I did however think about all the other things I associated the Mail with, such as the harm caused to individuals and families up and down the country and all the false stories they would pump out about [my wife] Meghan," Prince Harry said in a witness statement, in court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
When the case was announced in October 2022, Prince Harry's lawyers claimed that he was among several individuals who had "become 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."
The claimants alleged in their lawsuit that unlawful practices included the placement of listening devices in their cars and homes by private investigators, the surreptitious recording of private telephone calls, the payment of police "with corrupt links to private investigators" for sensitive information, impersonation to obtain medical information from hospitals and care facilities and illicit manipulation into accessing bank accounts, credit histories and other financial transactions.
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Powerhouse publisher ANL denies the allegations, calling them "preposterous smears," the BBC reported.
In other litigation, the Duke of Sussex is also undertaking a separate libel lawsuit against Associated Newspapers centering on a Mail on Sunday article about his legal battle with the British government over his police protection in the country.
Meanwhile, he is also one of several high-profile figures bringing damages claims against Mirror Group Newspapers over alleged unlawful information gathering. The trial is set to begin on May 9 — just three days after his father's coronation. It is unclear if Harry will appear as a witness in that case.
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