King Charles III’s younger son Prince Harry’s claim that Buckingham Palace had a secret deal with newspaper executives have been thrown out by a judge.
Meghan Markle’s husband Harry had alleged that a clandestine deal between palace courtiers and newspaper executives was the reason he had not brought his case sooner.
After the Duke of Sussex launched the action against News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun and News of the World, the company argued that the prince was too late.
By law, claimants have six years to start legal action after they find out about the alleged activity. Harry’s response was to say he would have brought the case sooner but for a ‘secret agreement’ at the Palace in 2012 that had stopped him.
This claim to the court triggered a hearing, held earlier this month, to find out what this supposed deal was all about.
On Thursday, Justice Fancourt, ruled that such a deal was ‘implausible’, and rejected Harry’s bid to use it as the reason for his late claim.
He said the phone-hacking element of the duke’s claim was therefore ‘time barred’ and was struck out.
But the rest of Harry’s case – that he was also targeted by illegal activity such as private investigators ‘blagging’ information about him – will stay in the case, and a trial is scheduled for January.
In his ruling, the judge said it was ‘inconsistent’ to claim both these things at the same time. He added that no one is permitted to pursue ‘alternative and inconsistent factual cases’, and said Harry’s evidence to the court was ‘therefore contrary’ to his own case.