- By Dominic Cassiani & Emma Harrison
- Home and Law Correspondent
Prince William was paid a “huge sum” by the owners of The Sun newspaper to settle historic phone hacking claims, court documents say.
The payment was made in 2020 in documents from Prince Harry’s lawyers as part of legal action against Newsgroup newspapers in the High Court.
The Duke of Sussex is suing the publisher for illegal data collection.
But NGN says time has run out for him to bring a claim.
The documents did not disclose the amount Prince William paid and did not detail what it involved. A spokesman for the Prince of Wales said he would not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.
According to Prince Harry’s witness statement, newspaper owners struck a “secret deal” with officials at Buckingham Palace to defer legal claims from members of the royal family.
That alleged deal, the details of which were not disclosed in court, delayed Prince Harry from bringing his own suit, his lawyers say.
Prince says he first learned about the deal in 2012.
At the time, he learned that civil servants were launching legal action for phone hacking — and he believed he and his brother were being personally targeted.
When the brothers consulted the authorities or the royal family’s top lawyer, they were told they could not launch their own legal action, he says.
“A confidential agreement has been reached between the company and senior executives at News Group Newspapers against which members of the royal family will bring phone hacking claims. [all other cases] and at that stage the claims will be accepted or settled with apology,” the statement said.
“This is to avoid a situation where a member of the royal family has to sit in the witness box and recount the specific details of intercepted private and highly sensitive voicemails.”
Prince Harry has said the Lords are “incredibly nervous” about the damaging re-exposure of a private phone call between his father and Queen Consort Camilla that was intercepted and released while King Charles was married to Diana.
“This agreement, including NGN’s promises of late settlement, was a major factor in why I did not bring any claims at the time,” Prince Harry said.
NGN denies that there is any contract.
The case is one of three major lawsuits by the Duke of Sussex against tabloid newspapers, alleging illegal information gathering. Other cases concern the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail groups.
He alleged that evidence revealed from criminal investigations into phone hacking at the now-defunct News of the World proved he was consistently targeted by its sister title, the Sun.
Its journalists and private investigators working for them have accused Prince Harry of receiving private and confidential information from the age of 11 or 12 – including details about his private life and movements.
The Sun’s owners say the Duke of Sussex’s claim for damages should be struck out because he has run out of time – and have applied to end Prince Harry’s case.
If they succeed in the application, they could block a similar high-profile damage claim by actor Hugh Grant.
Mr Grant’s lawyers are also opposing the newspaper’s attempt to wrap up the case in a three-day trial this week.