LONDON — Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper group paid a “big sum” to the heir to the British throne, Prince William, in 2020 to settle allegations that its reporters hacked his phone, according to his brother, Prince Harry. say.
Harry, who is also suing Murdoch’s News Corp newspaper, said in a legal filing that the payment stemmed from a “secret agreement” between the publisher and the royal family under which the royal family would delay payment of the company’s Avoid the spectacle of having to testify about embarrassing details from intercepted voicemail messages by filing legal action.
Harry did not disclose the terms or amount of the settlement in the filing, nor did he mention specific incidents in which his brother’s phone was tapped. He said William made the claim against News Corp, publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct tabloid News of the World, in 2019 when the illegal activity had been going on for years and most of the phone-hacking proceedings had concluded.
A spokesman for Prince William did not respond to a request for comment. News Corp declined to comment on whether a settlement had been reached with William, but denied a secret deal with the royal family.
On Tuesday, Harry reopened his own case against News Corp in London’s High Court and made a request for a settlement. He accused The Sun and other tabloids of illegally hacking his phone and other personal information over the years, and later reneged on an apology deal with the royal family.
The disclosure of what he claims involves his brother’s costly settlement comes just days after Mr Murdoch’s Fox Corporation agreed to pay $787.5 million to settle a defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems, the election technology company behind President Donald Trump. Mocked by multiple Fox News hosts J. Trump was defeated by President Biden in 2020. It also comes a day after Tucker Carlson, Fox News’ most popular and provocative host, was forced to step down in a firing that exposed new turmoil at the network.
For Mr Murdoch, the revelation of the phone hacking was another humbling episode in his long career, when a News of the World reporter tapped a murdered 13-year-old British girl phone. Mr Murdoch’s editors and executives have been locked in the dock and his company’s practices have been widely condemned.
Much of Harry’s 31-page statement was a litany of grievances to the London tabloids. He said the papers had committed “extremely despicable” acts by invading the privacy of him and his future wife, Meghan Markle, and ex-girlfriend Chelsea David, who was being hounded by the paparazzi. One of their techniques, he said, was hacking his phone to intercept voicemail messages.
However, Harry’s claim that there was a “secret agreement” between the royal family and senior executives of News Corporation has not been disclosed before. The aim, he said, was to prevent further swearing at a time when the royal family is mired in a series of scandals.
“The agency is very nervous about this and wants to avoid at all costs the reputational damage it suffered in 1993 when The Sun and another tabloid illegally obtained and published details of an intimate phone conversation between my father and stepmother. 1989 2009, when he was still married to my mother,” Harry said in a witness statement.
He was referring to an intercepted phone call between Charles, then Prince of Wales, and Camilla Parker-Bowles, with whom Charles was having an affair at the time. At one point, Charles was heard telling her that he wished he could “live in your pants,” perhaps by reincarnating as a tampon.
Harry’s relationship with his father and brother has been shattered by his allegations that the royal family has abused his wife Meghan. In his memoir, “Backup,” Harry describes a toxic atmosphere in which family members shared taint with tabloid reporters in an effort to garner more flattering coverage of themselves.
Now, in his legal case, Harry is digging into some of the most appalling and cringe-worthy moments in the royal family on the eve of his father’s coronation as Charles III. Charles later divorced Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, and married Ms Parker-Bowles, who will be crowned Queen Camilla alongside Charles on May 6.
Despite the serious rift, Buckingham Palace recently said Prince Harry will attend the coronation, though Meghan will remain at the couple’s home in Montecito, California, with their two children, Archie and Lilibet.
Royal experts said the confidentiality of the settlement between William and News Corp would lead to unwelcome speculation, not least because Harry suggested the deal led him “arguably ‘quietly'”.
“He has an absolute right to a settlement, he has an absolute right not to tell us the terms of the settlement,” said former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt. “But it raises all kinds of questions about what else is in the deal.”
“You’re talking about the next constitutional head of state, you’re talking about Rupert Murdoch, you’re talking about a secret deal,” Mr Hunt added.
News Corp has apologized to other victims of the News of the World phone hacking, which Mr Murdoch shut down following the scandal involving the 13-year-old girl. The company also reached financial settlements with multiple hacking victims. But The Sun, which is battling other hacking lawsuits, has not admitted wrongdoing. News Corp argued Harry’s case should not go to trial because his allegations were outdated.
“As litigation draws to a close, NGN is drawing the line on contentious matters, some of which date back more than 20 years,” a News Group Newspapers spokeswoman said Tuesday. “All of these things are historic, Dating back to between 1996 and 2012.”
In a court filing, Maxine Gayle Mossman, a lawyer representing News Corp, said she had questioned several of News Corp’s top in-house lawyers about a secret deal with the royal family , but no one “participated in, was informed of, or otherwise knew of any ‘secret agreement.'”
In the filing, Harry claimed he had the approval of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, to demand a formal apology from News Corp over the alleged hack. He describes the futile efforts to get a response from Rebekah Brooks, then head of Murdoch’s UK newspapers, and Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corporation . After a trial in 2014, Ms Brooks was found not guilty of wiretapping.
Haley said he felt pressured to confront News Corp executives ahead of his 2018 marriage to Markle because he didn’t want Mr Murdoch’s newspapers to resign without making amends for their past behaviour. Profit from reporting the event.
“I remember going to my brother and saying something like ‘Enough is enough’. I want to get permission to push for a settlement of our phone-hacking allegations and make it official before anyone from Murdoch is allowed anywhere near the wedding. Apologies,” Harry said in a statement.