- Written by Dominic Casciani and Emma Harrison
- Home and legal journalist
Court documents said Prince William received a “very large sum” from the owners of The Sun newspaper to settle historic allegations of phone hacking.
The payment was revealed in 2020 in documents from Prince Harry’s lawyer in the legal case he filed against News Group Newspapers in the High Court.
The Duke of Sussex is suing the publisher over alleged illegal information gathering.
But NGN says it has run out of time to file a claim.
The documents do not reveal how much Prince William paid, or contain any details about it. A spokesman for the Prince of Wales said he would not comment on the ongoing legal proceedings.
According to the testimony of Prince Harry’s witness, the newspaper’s owners entered into a “confidentiality agreement” with officials at Buckingham Palace to dismiss the legal claims of members of the royal family.
Lawyers say the alleged deal, details of which have not been disclosed in court, has delayed Prince Harry from bringing his case.
The prince says he first heard about the alleged deal in 2012.
At the time, he learned that the royal staff had taken legal action to hack the phone – and it is also believed that he and his brother were personally targeted.
When the brothers consulted with officials or the royal family’s chief attorney, he said they were told they could not take legal action.
“The reason behind this is that a confidentiality agreement has been reached between the foundation and the senior executives of News Group Newspapers, according to which the royal family will not file phone hacking claims until the end of [all other cases] At this point, the claims will either be accepted or resolved with an apology. »
The reason for this is to avoid the situation where a member of the royal family has to sit in the witness box and recount the specific details of the intercepted highly private and sensitive voicemails. »
Prince Harry said the courtiers were ‘incredibly nervous’ about repeating the devastating revelations about an intimate phone call between his father and Queen Camilla, which was intercepted and made public at a time when King Charles was still married to Diana.
“It is clear that this agreement, including the promises made by NGN to delay dissolution, has been a major factor in the fact that no claims have been made at this time,” Prince Harry said.
Her solicitor, David Sherborne, said the queen and two of her private secretaries were involved in “discussions and clearances” over the alleged deal, as well as private secretaries for William and Harry.
NGN denies any agreement.
NGN’s Anthony Hudson KC said the duke’s request for a confidentiality agreement was “totally inconsistent” with other parts of his case and there was “extreme ambiguity” surrounding the circumstances of the alleged deal.
He said that Prince Harry did not say who made the deal, who applied for it, when it was concluded or when it would end.
The case is one of three major cases the Duke of Sussex has brought against tabloids, all alleging illegal news gathering. Other cases concern the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail groups.
Evidence unearthed from the criminal trials – relating to the now-closed News of the World phone hack – is believed to prove it was serially targeted by its sister company, The Sun.
Prince Harry has been accusing his reporters and private detectives of obtaining private and confidential information since he was 11 or 12 years old, including details of his personal life and whereabouts.
The Sun’s owners say the Duke of Sussex’s claim for compensation should be quashed as time runs out – and are calling for Prince Harry’s case to be closed.
If they succeed in their claim, it could prevent a high-profile damages claim from actor Hugh Grant.
Grant’s attorneys also oppose the paper’s attempt to close the case at the three-day hearing this week.
At the end of the hearing, the judge will determine whether their claims go to trial, which is scheduled to be heard in January next year.