Prince Harry was today ordered to pay the publisher of the Mail almost £50,000 after he lost the latest stage of a legal battle.A High Court judge ordered the Duke of Sussex to pay legal costs incurred by The Mail on Sunday (TMOS), after Harry failed in a bid to have the case decided without a trial.
Mr Justice Nicklin said the legal costs would need to be assessed if the two sides could not agree a sum, but said Harry should pay £48,447 ‘on account’ before the end of this year.The duke, 39, is suing TMOS over an article which claimed his PR aides tried to ‘spin’ his dispute with the Home Office over its decision to downgrade his taxpayer-funded police protection.
He asked the High Court to rule that the newspaper could not use a legal defence of ‘honest opinion’, and for a judge to rule in his favour without a public trial.
High Court judge Mr Justice Nicklin said the newspaper had ‘a real prospect of succeeding in demonstrating also that an honest person could have held the opinion that the Claimant [the Duke] was responsible for attempting to mislead and confuse the public as to the true position’.
He refused the Duke’s request for the case to be decided without a public trial, and for newspaper’s defence of ‘honest opinion’ to be thrown out.The judge said: ‘The honest opinion defence is fundamental to the protection of freedom of expression under English law.’
Harry, 39, launched libel action against TMOS over an article published in February 2022, about his legal action against the Home Office.He applied for a judicial review against the Home Office after the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures, known as Ravec, decided he was no longer entitled to automatic police protection after he and wife Meghan stepped down as working members of the Royal Family.