March 5. 2024. 7:17

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Prince Harry attends UK High Court for Associated Newspapers hearing

Britain’s Prince Harry has attended the High Court in London for a hearing in his claim against Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers over allegations of unlawful information-gathering.

The publisher is bringing a bid to end High Court claims brought by people including the prince and Elton John over alleged unlawful activity at its titles.

The duke sat towards the back of the courtroom, occasionally taking notes in a small black notebook.

The group of high-profile individuals, which also includes Elton’s husband David Furnish and actresses Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost, announced in October it was bringing claims for misuse of private information against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL).

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Their lawyers said at that time the group have “become aware of compelling and highly distressing evidence that they have been the victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy” by ANL, which is also the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline.

In a statement announcing the launch of the legal action, released by Hamlins law firm, it was alleged the unlawful acts included hiring private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside cars and homes and the recording of private phone conversations.

The publisher hit back at the allegations, describing them at the time as “preposterous smears” and a “pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone-hacking scandal”.

A spokesperson for ANL also said the allegations were “unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims, based on no credible evidence”.

A four-day preliminary hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London began on Monday and is set to include ANL’s bid for the claims to be dismissed without a trial.

The hearing before Mr Justice Nicklin is due to conclude on Thursday.

Monday’s appearance is believed to be the first time Prince Harry has been back in the UK since the queen’s funeral in September.

His surprise return comes nearly three months after he laid bare his troubled relationship with his father the king and brother the prince of Wales in his controversial autobiography Spare. – PA