State funeral and burial of Queen Elizabeth
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, reacts as he attends the state funeral and burial of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, in London, Britain, September 19, 2022. Reuters

Lawyers for Prince Harry will be back in a London court on Tuesday in his latest foray against Britain's tabloid press, this time taking on Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers (NGN) over allegations of phone-hacking.

Harry, the younger son of King Charles, started action against NGN, publisher of the Sun tabloid and now defunct News of the World, in September 2019, not long before he and his wife Meghan stepped down from royal duties and moved to California.

During three-days of preliminary hearings this week, NGN, which has paid out millions of pounds to settle hundreds of phone-hacking cases, is seeking to strike out claims by the prince and British actor Hugh Grant against the Sun, arguing they should have taken action sooner.

The case is one of four Harry is pursuing at the High Court in London against British newspapers that he accuses of using illegal means to invade his or his wife's privacy, or simply lying about them.

His claim against NGN could prove particularly sensitive for Australian-born media mogul Murdoch's British newspaper group. In 2012, it issued an unreserved apology for widespread hacking carried out by journalists at the News of the World which Murdoch shut down amid a backlash.

But it has always rejected any unlawful activity at the Sun which was previously edited by Rebekah Brooks, now chief executive of Murdoch's British arm News UK. She has always denied knowledge of phone-hacking and was found not guilty in 2014 of involvement following a criminal trial.


"The Sun does not accept liability or make any admissions to the allegations," an NGN spokesperson said. "As we reach the tail end of litigation, NGN is drawing a line under disputed matters, some of which date back more than 20 years ago."

Last week, Murdoch's Fox Corp. settled a U.S. defamation lawsuit for $787.5 million, but reports suggest that figure is dwarfed by the British phone-hacking scandal.

In 2021, the media industry magazine, the Press Gazette, estimated that phone-hacking had cost NGN more than 1 billion pounds ($1.24 billion), and in its accounts last year the group stated that it might need to spend a further 100 million pounds.

During the trial against Brooks and others, the News of the World's former royal editor Clive Goodman said in the mid-2000s he had hacked the voicemails of Harry as well as those of his elder brother Prince William, now heir to the throne, and William's wife Kate.

Her phone was hacked 155 times, William's 35 and Harry's nine times, the court was told.

As part of claims he has brought against another publisher, Associated Newspapers, Harry said he had been "vaguely" aware of this in 2005. But he said he only realised he could sue NGN in 2018, accusing Buckingham Palace of withholding information from him.

Last month, he attended court in person to hear lawyers for Associated, which publishes the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, seek to throw out a case brought by him and other high-profile figures including singer Elton John.

They accuse the papers of hacking and tapping their phones, bugging their homes and other unlawful acts, claims the publisher has rejected "in their entirety".

Next month, his lawyers will be back in court as part of litigation against the publisher of the Daily Mirror paper, which he and others are suing over allegations of phone-hacking, with the prince expected to give evidence in person in June.

He is also suing Associated for libel, with a decision on whether he can win that case without a trial also expected presently.

($1 = 0.8047 pounds)