Prince Harry Can’t Add Rupert Murdoch, Princess Diana, Meghan Markle Claims to Tabloid Snooping Suit

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Prince Harry at the Invictus Games Foundation 10th Anniversary Service at St Paul's Cathedral in May 2024. - Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
Prince Harry at the Invictus Games Foundation 10th Anniversary Service at St Paul's Cathedral in May 2024. - Credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Prince Harry was not allowed to amend his upcoming lawsuit against News Group Newspapers with several new allegations, some of which pertained to media mogul Rupert Murdoch and others that involved his late mother, Princess Diana, and wife Meghan Markle.

Harry and the more than 40 other plaintiffs involved in the suit filed the potential amendments back in March. Among the biggest proposed claims was that Murdoch, who owns News Group Newspapers, was aware of the criminal activity allegedly taking place at his papers, such as phone hacking and other unlawful information-gathering techniques. The proposed amendment also leveled similar claims at several major NGN executives, like Piers Morgan, who edited the now-defunct News of the World tabloid during the Nineties.

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But Judge Timothy Fancourt ultimately ruled that these claims added “nothing to the allegations already made against other senior executives at NGN and its parent companies” (such as Murdoch’s son, James, and Rebekah Brooks, an editor at News of the World and The Sun). He also suggested the plaintiff’s lawyers were trying to “shoot at ‘trophy’ targets, whether those are political issues or high-profile individuals. This cannot become an end in itself: it only matters to the court so far as it is material and proportionate to the resolution of the individual causes of action.”

Specifically regarding the claims against Murdoch, Fancourt wrote, “Tempting though it no doubt is for the claimants’ team to attempt to inculpate the man at the very top, doing so will add nothing to a finding that Ms. Brooks and Mr. James Murdoch or other senior executives knew and were involved if that is proved to be the case.”

Furthermore, Fancourt rejected Harry’s efforts to expand the scope of the lawsuit to include new bugging or unlawful information-gathering allegations pertaining to articles written in 1994 and 1995 about Princess Diana and in 2016 about his burgeoning relationship with Markle. Fancourt said these allegations ”were not within the scope of the existing claim.”

Despite setbacks like these, Fancourt did allow Harry to add a few more claims to his suit, including allegations that the tabloids tapped his landline. And while Murdoch and Morgan were kept from the lawsuit, Fancourt said the claimants could bring new accusations against additional journalists and private investigators allegedly involved in the snooping.

Lawyers for NGN and the claimants did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s requests for comment.

An NGN rep said in a statement to Variety, “NGN argued that a number of these were irrelevant to the fair and just determination of claims and had nothing to do with seeking compensation for victims of phone hacking or unlawful information gathering. The Court, in its judgment today, has thoroughly vindicated NGN’s position and did not give permission to introduce large and significant portions of the amendments.”

The NGN lawsuit is set to go to trial in January 2025. Earlier this year, Harry settled a similar suit with a different tabloid publisher, Mirror Group Newspaper, which a judge found had engaged in unlawful information-gathering tactics, like phone hacking and intercepting his voicemails.

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