Prince Harry warned not to 'misuse' court during battle with Mail On Sunday

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3 min read

Watch: Prince Harry accepts apology and damages from Mail publisher

Prince Harry was warned by a judge not to misuse his time in court as he accepted damages from the publisher of the Mail On Sunday.

Harry, 36, took action against Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL), who publish the Mail On Sunday, after an article said he had turned his back on the military community since he had moved to the US and left his role as a senior royal.

The prince said the article was defamatory, and the paper published an apology and paid damages.

But in court it was the royal who was warned as a judge said the prince’s initial statement about the matter was “tendentious”.

Harry agreed to alter the initial comments and took out criticisms of ANL, the judge said.

Harry’s wife Meghan is also suing ANL for copyright infringement, after it published extracts of a letter she wrote to her father shortly after her wedding.

On Monday Jenny Afia, representing the duke, said: “The baseless, false and defamatory stories published in the Mail on Sunday and on the website MailOnline constituted not only a personal attack upon the Duke’s character but also wrongly brought into question his service to this country.”

Read more: How Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are choosing to speak for themselves

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 10: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the annual Remembrance Sunday service at The Cenotaph on November 10, 2019 in London, England. The armistice ending the First World War between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiegne, France on eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - 11am on the 11th November 1918. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Harry and William at the annual Remembrance Sunday service at The Cenotaph in 2019 in London. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

She added that the damages which had been awarded would be donated to the Invictus Games, which he set up in 2014, saying he’d made the decision “so he could feel something good had come out of the situation”.

It emerged that his original statement had been amended after a judge awarded him £2,500 for costs for the hearing.

Mr Justice Nicklin warned the duke the process of giving a statement in court was not “platform for collateral attacks” and should not be “misused”.

He said: “The claimant’s original draft statement in open court was unduly tendentious and it included criticisms of the defendant which have, by agreement, now been removed or amended.

SANDHURST, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: (NO PUBLICATION IN UK MEDIA FOR 28 DAYS)  Prince Harry in action during his training at Sandhurst Military Academy, issued on January 25, 2006, England. Prince Harry is to join the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry after completing his Sandhurst training in April. The 21-year-old third in line to the throne hopes to become an Armoured Reconnaissance Troop Leader at the forefront of Army operations. (Photo by Pool/Anwar Hussein Collection/Getty Images)
Prince Harry in action during his training at Sandhurst Military Academy in 2006. (Getty Images)
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 5: (NO PUBLICATION IN UK MEDIA FOR 28 DAYS) Princess Anne, Princess Royal presents Afghanistan war campaign medals to officers and soldiers of the Household Cavalry Regiment, including Lieutenant Wales, Prince Harry, at Combermere Barracks on May 5, 2008 in Windsor, England. (Photo by POOL/ Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)
Princess Anne awarded Harry his Afghanistan war campaign medal in May 2008 in Windsor. (Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)

“It could have achieved proper vindication – and generated less by way of dispute – if it had been proposed in terms that properly reflected the purposes of a statement in open court.”

He added: “As reports of statements in open court are protected by privilege, the court will not permit them to be misused.

“A claimant cannot seek to use a statement in open court as a platform for collateral attacks on the defendant(s) and/or other third parties.

“If a claimant wishes publicly to make such criticisms, then s/he will have to do so by means outside the statement in open court, for example by issuing a press release.”

Watch: Prince Harry’s Invictus Games postponed for second year in a row

A statement from Harry afterward said: “Unsurprisingly, The Mail again misled their readers in December by claiming to make a charitable donation as part of an initial apology. They did no such thing.

“The duke is personally donating the significant damages recovered from this legal resolution to the Invictus Games Foundation.”

Harry had sought £35,000 for costs for his legal proceedings, but the judge said this was “manifestly disproportionate”, adding: “No litigant of ordinary means would reasonably consider spending such a sum on this exercise.”

Read more: Prince Harry says coronavirus has led to 'acute hardship' for those who relied on tourists

The case was settled in court the day before Harry was forced to postpone the 2020 Invictus Games for another year.

Last year’s games had been scheduled to be held in The Hague, but the event had to be moved to 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday organisers including Harry confirmed they would be moved again to 2022.