Prince Harry, Sir Elton John appear at UK court in privacy lawsuit

Britain's Prince Harry and singer Elton John made a surprise appearance at London's High Court on Monday (local time) as they and five others began a lawsuit against the publisher of the Daily Mail paper over years of alleged phone-tapping and privacy breaches.

Harry, the younger son of King Charles, has brought a lawsuit against Associated Newspapers (ANL), along with John, his husband David Furnish, and actors Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost.

They allege they were victims of "numerous unlawful acts" carried out by journalists or private investigators working on behalf of ANL titles the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.

These included hacking mobile phone messages, bugging calls, getting private information such as medical records by deception or "blagging", and "even commissioning the breaking and entry into private property", court documents from their lawyers said.

The alleged activity ran from 1993 to 2011, and even up to 2018, the lawyers said.

ANL, which is seeking to have the case thrown out, said in a statement it categorically denied the allegations and would vigorously defend them if necessary.

Harry, who flew in from his California home, sat just feet away from reporters, watching intently and taking notes. His spokesperson said he wanted to be there to show his support and he might attend for much of the four-day preliminary hearing.

Elton John, Furnish and Frost were also in court on Monday. None of the claimants are expected to speak during the hearing, which they were not required to attend.


In his claim, Harry accuses the papers of targeting him for stories from at least early 2001 until at least late 2013.

It alleges they had sought information about private flight details of his ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy, and hacked mobile phone voicemail messages and bugged the landlines of his friends, with a hardwire tap put on the phone on one of them, Guy Pelly.

One private investigator, who was later jailed for phone-hacking, had targeted him during his routine monitoring of the voicemails of members of the royal family, the statement said.

The actions had meant he was "largely deprived of important aspects of his teenage years" and the suspicion and paranoia they caused led to him losing friends as "everyone became a 'suspect'", the claim said.

The unlawful attempts to find out details of the royal's private travel plans were a significant security risk "which was as grossly irresponsible as it was dangerous", the document said.

Another claimant is Doreen Lawrence, mother of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a 1993 racist attack and whose killers the Mail had championed bringing to justice.

"She finds it hard to believe the level of duplicity and manipulation that was clearly at play, knowing now as she does that the Daily Mail’s outward support for her fight to bring Stephen’s killers to justice was hollow, and worse, entirely false,” her case states.


In court submissions, ANL 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 are arguing that the claims fall outside a time limit for legal action and that some breach an order made during a year-long public inquiry into press standards which began in 2011.

That inquiry, headed by senior judge Brian Leveson, followed outrage over reporters hacking voicemail messages. The scandal led to the closure of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid in 2011 and later the jailing of its former editor.

Media intrusion was one of the reasons Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, cited for stepping back from royal duties and moving to California to forge new lives and careers.

They attacked the press in their recent six-part Netflix documentary series and in Harry's memoir "Spare".

Harry is not expected to see his father King Charles or elder brother William while he is in London.