Associated Newspapers deny the allegations and a preliminary High Court hearing starting on Monday, will consider whether legal arguments and a judge will decide whether it will go any further.
It’s the latest of several cases brought against the tabloid press by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over the last few years, and this is just one of several cases Prince Harry is currently involved in.
Here’s everything you need to know.
The Duke of Sussex v Associated Newspapers Ltd will take place at the High Court in London and is set to last four days.
While Prince Harry is one of the key players, as a group litigation he is not the only claimant.
The 38-year-old royal is bringing the action along with others including actresses Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost, Sir Elton John and his husband, filmmaker David Furnish, and Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon OBE.
David Sherborne is the lawyer representing Harry and the other claimants.
Who are Associated Newspapers?
One of Britain’s biggest media publishers, Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL) is the publisher of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline.
The publisher has applied to the court to block public access to the case, limiting the details of content set to be publicly revealed.
Lawyers for the claimants have said they had become aware of “highly distressing” evidence revealing they had been victims of “abhorrent criminal activity” and “gross breaches of privacy” by Associated Newspapers.
• The hiring of private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside people’s cars and homes
• The commissioning of individuals to surreptitiously listen into and record people’s live, private telephone calls while they were taking place
• The payment of police officials, with corrupt links to private investigators, for inside, sensitive information
• The impersonation of individuals to obtain medical information from private hospitals, clinics, and treatment centres by deception
• The accessing of bank accounts, credit histories and financial transactions through illicit means and manipulation
Associated Newspapers have strongly denied the allegations, describing them as “preposterous smears”, and claiming the legal action taken is “a fishing expedition by [the] claimants and their lawyers”.
What was the Leveson Inquiry and why is it relevant?
In 2011, judge Sir Brian Leveson led a public inquiry after it was revealed News Of The World journalists had hacked the phone of murdered school girl Milly Dowler.
Initially intended to be carried out in two sections, the first part of the Leveson Inquiry looked at the culture, practices and ethics of the press. It involved celebrities including Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller, Steve Coogan and Charlotte Church.
During the inquiry, Paul Dacre, who was editor of the Daily Mail between 1992 and 2018, and is now Associated Newspapers’ editor-in-chief, “unequivocally” condemned “phone hacking and payments to the police”, saying “such practices are a disgrace and have shocked and shamed us all.”
He said: “They need to be purged from journalism and reforms instigated to prevent such criminal activities ever happening again.”
The counsel for Associated Newspapers at the time, Jonathan Caplan, told the inquiry that “so far as [Associated] is aware no journalist at Associated Newspapers has engaged in phone-hacking.
“It does not bribe police officers and, in particular, it condemns the shameful practice of hacking the mobile phones of the victims of crime, or of their families.”
Part two of the Leveson Inquiry was meant to investigate the relationship between journalists and the police, but never took place. There have since been calls to re-open the uncompleted inquiry, with activists including those from the Hacked Off campaign saying such cases as this show wrongdoing within some newspapers is still taking place.
Who else is Prince Harry taking to court?
This is not the only legal battle Prince Harry is fighting.
The royal has an ongoing libel case against Associated Newspapers over an article about his security arrangements in the Mail on Sunday. The paper says the article was based on “honest opinion”. He has a separate legal fight against the Home Office over the same protection issues.
In May, his lawsuit against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), the publisher of the Daily Mirror, over accusations of phone hacking between 1996 and 2011, will go to trial.
Other celebrities involved in the case include former Girls Aloud bandmate Cheryl, actor Ricky Tomlinson, ex-footballer and TV presenter Ian Wright and the estate of the late singer George Michael. MGN has contested the claims and argues that some have been brought too late.
And he is also suing News Group Newspapers (NGN), the publisher of The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers (as well as the now-defunct News of the World) for alleged phone-hacking. The Sun has always denied phone hacking took place at the paper, and the publisher has not admitted any unlawful conduct at the title.
Why is Prince Harry doing this?
Prince Harry’s hatred of the British tabloid press is well-documented – he has written about it at length in his memoir Spare and spoken about it in numerous resulting TV interviews.
He has said he blames the paparazzi for the part they played in his mother’s death and vented his frustration at the “injustice” of no one being sent to jail following the inquest into the car crash that killed her.
He has also said that media intrusion was part of the reason he and Meghan stepped back from royal duties in 2020 and moved to America.
Just this year Prince Harry accused members of his family of getting into bed with the devil – the tabloid press – to sully him and his wife Meghan to improve their own reputations.
He has called it his “life’s work” to change the British “media landscape,” making it more accountable for its actions. With a high profile and deep pockets, it’s a mission he’s started in earnest.
It remains to be seen whether the tell-all interviews, a revealing memoir and now numerous court cases assist Prince Harry in his crusade against the media, or simply fuel the fire he says he is so keen to put out.