In a surprising turn of events, the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, has withdrawn his libel case against the Mail on Sunday just hours before the deadline for his legal team to submit a list of relevant documents.
The case, centered around an article accusing Prince Harry of attempting to mislead the public over a dispute with the Home Office, took a sudden twist as the Duke informed the High Court at 10 am that he was discontinuing the legal proceedings.
This decision means that Prince Harry now faces the financial repercussions of paying not only the newspaper’s costs of £250,000 but also his own lawyers’ fees, resulting in a hefty total legal bill exceeding £750,000.
The initial lawsuit was filed by Prince Harry against the Mail on Sunday for libel, concerning an article alleging that his PR aides had tried to spin a disagreement with the Home Office regarding the downgrading of his taxpayer-funded police protection. The Duke argued that the article unfairly accused him of attempting to confuse the public.
Harry’s legal team, Schillings, had been confident in their position, requesting Mr Justice Nicklin to rule in the Duke’s favor without a trial.
However, last month, the judge rejected this request, allowing the case to progress toward a libel trial.
As part of the pre-trial legal process, both parties were obligated to disclose any relevant documents. The nature of these documents remains unknown as the case was abandoned just before the disclosure deadline.
The article in question, published in February 2022, reported on Prince Harry’s separate legal action against the Home Office for withdrawing his police bodyguards—a case that is still ongoing.
The Mail on Sunday’s piece claimed that Harry had tried to keep this legal battle secret from the public, alleging that his PR team attempted to put a positive spin on the dispute.
In response, Prince Harry launched his libel action, asserting that the article was an attack on his honesty and integrity. The Mail on Sunday consistently contested the claim, standing by its journalism.
The legal dispute took an unexpected turn during a preliminary hearing when the newspaper’s legal team presented an email extract in which Prince Harry argued the need for a job before being able to afford private security.
This contradicted the narrative that Harry had offered to personally pay for his police protection.
As the Mail on Sunday relied on the defense that the article represented an honest opinion, Prince Harry’s decision to discontinue the case leaves the legal battle unresolved, adding a financial burden to the Duke’s side.